Review of Seal Team 13 by Evan Currie

SFFaudio Review

SEAL team 13Seal Team 13
By Evan Currie, Read by Todd Haberkorn
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication date: 15 November 2013
[UNABRIDGED] – 9 hours

Themes: / military sci-fi / Navy SEAL / supernatural / horror /

Publisher summary:

It’s been ten years since a mysterious, horrific incident in the South China Sea annihilated a US Navy destroyer and its Navy SEAL team. Only one man survived. Now, the US Navy is determined to put a stop to the new, frightening incidents taking place with alarming frequency. Enter SEAL Team 13, an elite group of soldiers led by sole survivor Harold “Hawk” Masters. Everyone on the team has survived contact with supernatural forces from “the other side.” Will their camaraderie and duty to country be enough to defeat the malevolent undead forces threatening the country? From world-building author Evan Currie, SEAL Team 13 is a dark, riveting, and action-packed tale of military intrigue and supernatural horror.

I hadn’t heard much about this one, but the description convinced me to give it a go. A military group is assembled to take on supernatural occurrences and with my experience with Myke Cole’s Shadow Ops series, which is really only similar in the fact that the military is involved, I thought I couldn’t miss.

Sadly, what started out as a fun romp with the military and monsters turned out to be a cliched and underwhelming frustration.

The Cliches

I don’t outright hate cliches. I think they can be used well and it’s an easy way to get people into the story or characters without having to waste time (i.e. pages) explaining things. The problem I had here was that once you make reference to “it’s like I’m in a movie” one too many times, it starts to pull you out of the immediate story. It’s no longer its own story, it’s someone else’s. And it just plain started to bug me since just about every character had to make mention of being in a bad horror movie.

And I was even impressed that the cliches weren’t so much in the monsters themselves. Obviously there were some monster cliches, but I liked the idea behind the vampires/zombies. Sadly it wasn’t enough.

Why I Was Underwhelmed

One of the big promises I felt that were made early on was that this team was collected to take on the supernatural occurrences in the world. Occurrences is plural right? So, I figured we would get more than one.

Okay, technically there are more than one because of the backstory of the characters, but the team itself only ever takes on one ridiculously long occurrence of the supernatural and that’s the end of this rather short book. Just a couple more would have made this so much better. Let’s see what else they can do. Are they really here for just the one event? It makes the whole idea behind supernatural threats seem much less … erm … threatening.

Longest Drawn Out Fight Scene Ever

This was the kicker. The last bit of the story has these guys throwing just about everything at the “boss” bad guy monster thing. They chase her through the building, then down the road, and it’s always just in the nick of time that she gets away/protagonist gets saved. And then it happens again … and again. I was so done with this scene. There’s tension and then there’s a time when you’ve built up the tension so much it breaks. When nothing has actually occurred in terms of resolution, I just can’t care anymore.

The Narrator

The narrator, Todd Haberkorn, did a good job. He definitely matched the cliches well and did solid work. I can’t say he was my favorite ever, but that may have been the lines he was given to work with as well. It’s hard to say.

Posted by Bryce L.

Review of The Great Secret by L. Ron Hubbard

SFFaudio Review

The Great Secret by L. Ron HubbardThe Great Secret
By L. Ron Hubbard; Read by various
2 CDs – Approx. 2 Hours 20 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Galaxy Press
Published: 2008
ISBN: 1592122493
Themes: / Science Fiction / Pulp / Spaceship / Navy / Venus / Slavery /
Fanner Marston was raised as a slave as a child, became a petty street thief as a teen, and now masters his own craft and crew as a grown man. He’s also gone completely mad. Driven by privation, with a vicious greed and slavering lust for power, Marston alone of forty men has survived the perilous trek through a blistering desert to the magical city of Parva, where legend says a secret awaits which will give him absolute control over the Universe. However, Marston finds the key to all power is not at all what he expected…”

Galaxy Press has given a deluxe treatment to these very pulpy pulp tales. The handsome cover art dates from 1949. Inside the package there is a 37 page, fully illustrated, booklet that includes a 6 page essay by Kevin J. Anderson and a 15 page biography of Hubbard. There are four stories included in this collection:

The Great Secret (Approx. 17 Minutes) – Narrated by Bruce Boxleitner, this is a fairly compelling, and quite strong story. The tale of an utterly driven man, searching for the alien tech rosetta stone that will make him the master of the universe. It could be interpreted as a Buddhist, Confucian or even Nietzschean parable. It also reminded me of the old “The Rip Van Winkle Caper” episode from the original Twilight Zone TV series. Boxleitner does good work.

Space Can (Approx. 35 Minutes) – A tale written in a bombastic puff that is so pulpy as to feel like it’s a pure pastiche. It’s the tale of a space navy ship “Menace” on patrol against superior aliens from Saturn. The action feels like a WWI-era naval battle, or earlier, complete with iron plated battleships, brstling with cannons, all pounding away at each other. There’s a lot in this short story, a breif setup, a few fights, a steely-eyed captain and crew, not to mention the fun sword-wielding ship boarding scenes. Space Can has multiple readers, though they only show up when the sparse dialogue appears.

3. The Beast (Approx. 43 Minutes) – On swampy Venus a mysterious Beast must be killed. Ginger Cranston, a “great white hunter” from Earth. Despite all the action this may be the most thoughtful tale in this collection, I quite liked where it went, though the getting there could have been a lot clearer. It’s almost like the movie Predator, except with an inversion of the alien and the man. Running water, grunts, and punching sounds all make the nifty action the narrator is giving out, hard to hear. It’s like a white noise, interfering with story.

4. The Slaver (Approx. 42 Minutes) – The weakest tale in this set, hardly memorable. Captured by slave traders, our hero, Kree Lorin the young hawk of Falcon’s Nest, outwits his captors, frees Dana, the “peasant girl of Palmerton” girl, and regains his spaceship. It’s got some very hokey dialogue and even hokier descriptions. I ended up not caring about it, and had to go back and listen again to recall any of the details.

Overall, the entire audiobook all feels over-produced. These Hubbard tales don’t really require multiple readers as they are very dialogue sparse. Also, the spartan use of sound effects and atmospheric sound doesn’t add anything substantial – in fact, in poor listening conditions, like while listening on the road, makes the varied voice types harder to hear. I can recommend The Beast and The Great Secret, these are solid pulp stories.

Posted by Jesse Willis