Mistborn: The Final Empire (Part 2 of 3)

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The middle (part 2 of 3) of this audiobook/audio drama hybrid is easily forgettable. That’s probably due to the lapse in listening I took and because having read/listened to the book, it was hard to differentiate what happened in what part. An event that happened in the beginning of part three could’ve happened at the end of part two. It’s not important, but it does make reviewing these hard. People who listened to this without a 1-2 month gap have larger attention spans than I do. While I enjoy political intrigue, all the ball scenes felt out of place. The tone was too different from the rest of the story. I realize it was necessary for having the plan established in part one to work, but the way it was handled could’ve been better. The sound effects were great. Each metal had a distinct sound, but sounded familiar enough to each other that it could be identified as allomancy. For example, Iron and steel are both external metals, but have opposite effects. One pulls objects towards you, while the other pushes them away. Their sounds are both similar and different, thus adding a certain ambience to the world through the SFX.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Mistborn: The Final Empire (Part 1 of 3)

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Originally published on graphicaudio.net

I finished reading the Final Empire sometime in the fall of 2011. However, I don’t remember much of the opening chapters, because I took a long gap of about 3 months before picking the book back up again.

Having read half of the second book in the trilogy, all I can say is “wow” at all the clues and hints I missed.

The one downside is that the narration is sometimes not needed. and seemed to drone on in places. A really good sound effect could do much of the heavy lifting in the “action” department. If I hear a coin being tossed, I don’t need the narrator telling me the same exact thing. It’s redundant.

That aside, it’s a shame that this part ended where it did. The book kicked it into high gear, during the heist planning scene and hearing it again was a real treat. Then again, it got me wanting to buy the second part.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Zombie Hospital #1

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At first glance, this looked like an interesting premise—an audio drama in ten minutes or less. However this doesn’t have a complete arc. While it was interesting, there wasn’t a whole lot of reason to listen to future episodes. For those who are sick of the zombie scene, this will only make you annoyed. If you’re the kind of person who goes into a movie, expecting it to be bad, chances are good that you’ll be disappointed. There are cases of a movie surprising us, but they really have to wow. Unfortunately the first episode of Zombie Hospital didn’t do that for me.

The acting is good and the sound effects don’t disorient the listener. Other than that, in terms of story, there’s not much going on to investigate further into the series. It’s an unfortunate, and I hate giving “bad” reviews, but I’ve got to be honest and say that I didn’t enjoy it. Perhaps I was colored by expecting this to have a complete arc. I was really looking forward to a “flash fiction” audio drama, as it was something I’ve heard very rarely.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Phantom Canyon

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Phantom Canyon succeeds in being horror. A horror-western is a bit of a stretch. Yes, the story is set in the old west, but I felt this was a much better horror piece than it was a western. That’s all good, because those two genres almost never work well together. I’d pin this audio drama at 75% horror, 25% western.

How good of a horror is this? I slept with the lights on for a few hours after listening to it. Horror films don’t scare me. It’s only after they’re done that my mind begins to play tricks on me. Phantom Canyon had that same effect.

The actors and actresses did a great job of bringing life to their characters. That, combined with the fantastic production value, made for a truly immersive story. Without any spoilers, the final scene succeeds in achieving the want for a sequel without promising there will be one. Such a balance is hard to get right.

Aside from the tiny genre complaint, there’s not really much to criticize this for. As Pendant’s first “Prestige” show they did a bang-up job and was worth the small amount of money that was shelled out to get it.

Rating: 5/5 stars.

Post-Ebook Era Update

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Starting July 6, Audio Drama Reviews will return to a weekly schedule.

This will go indefinitely. It’s kind of why there’s been a lapse in reviews. That and fixing some ebook errors (see below).

Updated Request Guidelines Page

There are slight changes to the “request guidelines” page. I can’t emphasize enough that the story needs to have sort of end. As a rule of thumb, If you know that the episode ends on a cliff hangar, don’t submit it! Finish the story, first. If it’s a serial, find an appropriate stopping place and mention the episode numbers in your e-mail.

Ebook Details Continued…

It came to my attention that the ebook out there on amazon, kobo, and smashwords have a few errors in them. I’ve been trying to keep it updated, hoping that the changes I made would be reflected in the ebooks that have already been downloaded. As far as Amazon goes, that’s not the case. I wanted to apologize for not catching this stuff before clicking publish.

Rating System and iTunes Store Reviews

Starting immediately, there will be a rating system for all works that have at least “3 stars”. Anything less will not be reviewed on iTunes or wherever you’ve placed the audio drama. This is to help the audio dramas in their iTunes rankings. There will still be some negative reviews, but they will remain solely on the site.

Here are the ratings:

1 Star: Clipping

2 Star: SFX Confusion

3 Star: Worth the Time

4 Star: Story First

5 Star: Oh the Feels

Hadron Gospel Hour Episode 1: The Reluctant Hadronaut

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Welcome to the multi-verse or at least one creator’s idea of a timeless science fiction trope. Dr. Who be damned, because there’s a new quirky comedy on the scene and it’s combining elements of Robot Chicken with Sci-fi comedy from the stylings of The Destiny of Special Agent Ace Galaksi. Hadron Gospel Hour promises to achieve both great storytelling and acts of random humor.

What makes this unique is how it uses the multiverse trope to justify the occasional random humor. That could be a turn off for some people. The beginning is way out there in terms of the randomness factor. It’s not until you get past the fake commercials for things like the awesome product that everyone needs that you get into the real meat and potatoes of the first episode. It’s an interesting way to set up the series and the world building behind it. In the essence of “show, don’t tell,” the creator(s) have achieved an interesting balance between explaining the world and showing you how random and unpredictable it can be.

The first episode has a whacky beginning, a comedic middle, and an ending that takes the whole thing up two notches. Honestly, the way they tied the main plot of this individual episode and the setup for the series together was outstanding. I certainly wasn’t expecting that kind of twist so early in the show’s debut.

The 33: Episode 1 Pramantha (Part 1 of 4)

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Author J.C. Hutchins has a new story out there in the world and, damn it, can it be February 28, please? This is a serialized story released in both ebook and audiobook. The only way to get the audio is via his website: jchutchins.net.

HTML links aside, this series promises to be a great read or listen (or, in my case, both). The introductory scene was confusing at first, but that’s probably the point. The scene goes to a dark place rather suddenly, and from the scene’s conclusion it was smooth sailing until … well, the end of the episode.

The author’s narration is faster than most professional audiobooks and that’s a good thing. Actually it has more to do with pacing, but there was never a moment where my eyes wandered several paragraphs ahead to find out what was going to happen next. J.C. narrates at a similar speed in which we [sentient beings] read.

There’s not much to review in terms of story. From what is in the episode, there was never a moment where it seemed to drag on. The beginning may have been a bit slow, but it ramped up quickly and efficiently all the way to the end. And by the time it reached the end, I was completely caught off guard. Time really does fly by when your having fun.

Ender’s Game Alive

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Ender’s Game Alive has a wonderful cast, powerful sound effects, and a story that has stood the test of time. Just like the novel changed science fiction, this adaptation does the same for audio drama. It says “this isn’t a worn out medium and here’s proof.” This version was my first experience of the story, having never read the book, and I enjoyed the story.

The opening scene was hard to get through because of the dialogue that was written on the page and I’ve heard the same complaint from people who’ve read the book that the opening was hard to get through. From what I understand, the book starts off with dialogue with no context. It’s essentially two people talking in a white room. Audio Dramas use dialogue all the time as do movies. It’s kind of their thing. I wasn’t sure of the first scenes purpose other than to inform the reader that in this society, having a third child is illegal and how Ender was allowed to be born, despite that law.

The ending felt a bit rushed, at least in the way it was presented, but I can see how it could’ve worked well in a book. The big twist ending was foreshadowed a few scenes before the reveal actually happened and the foreshadowing was like a hit to the head with a hammer. There wasn’t enough time to collect and process the information.

Having watched the movie, I have to say I like this interpretation of Colonel Graff better than Harrison’s Ford’s portrayal. In the movie, he didn’t have a lot of depth. In Ender’s Game Alive, you understand his motivation much more clearly. Those scenes with him and the psychologist were some of the more interesting bits of the story. I felt like Graff cared for Ender like his own son. The entire cast did a great job. Even though these characters were supposed to be kids, I was never knocked out of the story—even in the beginning.

Overall this production is fantastic and there was never a dull moment where I wanted to turn it off. It was more like I had to do it.

Tabula Rasa Season One

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One of Pendant Productions’ newer podcasts, “Tabula Rasa” has all the audible stylings that make Pendant shows great. The show was written and created by Jack Calk and directed by Anna Rodriguez and they are a force to be reckoned with. The premise of the story is short, sweet, and to the point—but not overused that it’s a cliche: a woman has no memory of who she is and has the uncanny ability to predict danger. Sounds like an interesting supernatural mystery, right? For example, how can she know the things she knows just in the first two episodes alone?

Most is explained, but a few loose ends are left hanging for future seasons. Perhaps a bit too much. Jack Calk never explicitly says how she knew about some of the dangers. It’s sort of implied by the characters and the situation that, yes, there is an explanation and here it is…maybe. That’s the thing. Since there is not a definitive answer given by the characters, one can’t know for sure—at least not now. It’s the perfect blend of ambiguity and concreteness. It kept me on my toes.

Listening to the first season more than once will enhance the experience for the listener. That’s not to say you can’t enjoy it on the first try. Perhaps if I’d listened to it while it was being aired, instead of the whole season all at once, this review may have been different. It’s impossible to know. But knowing the ending of the first season and then going back and listening to it again gave me a much better understanding of what was going on—which, I admit, was a big problem for me on the first listen. The episode before the season finale made me want to go back and listen to the entire thing, once I finished the next episode. That could be a problem for some people who expect a powerful opening.

If there’s one complaint I have it’s that the final episode doesn’t feel like a season finale. It ends on such a big cliffhanger and so many problems are created, rather than resolved. In fact, most of the the revelations and closure scenes happen in the episode before. It’s an interesting choice to structure the season like that. Kind of like what “The Kingery” did when they opened up a season with a certain character’s death, rather than at the end of the previous season. I know it’s a serialized story, but the way it came to a sudden halt was a bit of a letdown. Some more closure would have been nice. That or a longer season. Ten episodes didn’t feel like a whole lot of content. Again, that’s probably due to my listening to it over the weekend rather than one episode per month.

Other than the finale, the first season “Tabula Rasa” is a wonderful addition to Pendant Audio’s collection and promises to be so much more in the coming seasons. With a company like Pendant, there’s no doubt that they’ll make good on that promise and entertain the masses with a wonderful story, acting, and sound effects as the series progresses.

All Ears – Celebrating Modern Audio Drama

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This is for the “All Ears – Celebrating Modern Audio Drama” documentary. First off, wow. It’s great to see such a unique project be done with such care and love that it rekindled the strong passion I once had for audio drama.

As a reviewer of audio dramas for a little over 3 years now, my interest has been slowly fading. There’s not a lot of variety in the shows. It’s usually an adaptation, fan fiction, or a story that feels similar to a lot of things out there: generic westerns, mysteries, science fiction, fantasy, to name a few. That’s not to say they’re “bad,” but it’s hard to find an audio drama that both hooks me right from the start and keeps my interest until the end.

An audio documentary is something I’d never even considered was possible, yet Yap Audio does a tremendous job in creating that documentary feel with the clips sent in by various fans, creators, and actors alike. It’s like I was watching these proponents of modern audio drama sitting in their chairs with various audio-esque equipment behind them for decoration—when really, if you think about it, they’re just talking into a microphone possibly in their pajamas.

The project is both fascinating and educational, which most good documentaries have to achieve on some level. “All Ears” goes above and beyond even those, making it a great documentary. One that should be remembered and shared.