Jump at the Sun

A dramatic presentation of African American writer, folklorist and anthropologist — Zora Neale Hurston. It’s hard to determine how much of the story is true and how much is fiction, but the suspension of disbelief was never lost.

Throughout this production I was on the edge of my seat, in part because the struggles Zora went through were things most writers —aspiring or not — fear might happen to them. Even if you’re not a writer, the anguish she goes through is so universal that you can’t help but feel sorry for her. Even if you don’t understand why, the amount of hardship she endures is worthy of a “stand up and cheer” moment.

The actress who played Zora was phenomenal. Her performance alone was enough to give this a perfect rating. And the story itself was just icing on the cake. The audio drama is not without its faults, but they’re easily forgotten and on the level of nitpicking that they don’t bear mentioning.

You can find it on Audible for less than $10.

5/5 stars.

Star Trek: Outpost Season One

Star Trek: Outpost includes the things people love about the television series and its many spin-off shows. Everything from characters, interesting species, “techno babble,” and dry humor are all included in each 30-60 minute episode.

They say character is most the important element of storytelling. Nobody knows this better than Gene Roddenberry, who’s space opera has touched the lives of people all over the world. Why? Because of the characters were interesting, engaging, and well-rounded.

Granted, I’m not Trek fan by any stretch of the imagination, but from the episodes I’ve watched of the original series, plot took a backseat to character. Star Trek: Outpost is no different. It feels like Star Trek, told in a serialized, rather than episodic way. For some that may be a flaw. Other’s may see it as refreshing getaway from the typical plot-centered stories often found in today’s movies.

Where Outpost truly shines is its attention to the characters. Each one is unique and feels like a living breathing person with their own passions, desires, and personalities unique to themselves and only themselves.

One complaint is that the first seven episodes are hard to pin down as to what exactly is going on in terms of the plot. By episode seven you’re more grounded in the characters and world than the events that have been taking place. It takes half the season to get to the point where crap hits the proverbial fan and that’s a genuine problem it faces. These are long episodes and I personally can’t tell you what happened in the first six and a half episodes in terms of the plot. There kind of isn’t any.

Once you get past that opening hump, the story really picks up momentum. If this sounds like your cup of tea, definitely check out this fan-run Star Trek audio drama from Giant Gnome Productions.

4/5 Stars

Star Wars Episode IV

Star Wars Radio Drama. Need I say more? Perhaps one of the greatest science fiction movies of the twentieth century, Star Wars has captured the hearts of millions and lost a few of them along the way as the series went back in time. Of course I’m talking about the prequels, but that’s not the purpose of this review.

This adaptation of Star Wars IV: A New Hope was released on NPR back in 1981. Many others, have been fortunate to get it on audible.com, years after its original broadcast. Those expecting the movie but in audio form, will be presently surprised.

The runtime of the audio drama is 5+ hours and the the movie is less than 3. That means there’s at least 2 hours of extra story that adds more dimensions to the characters. We spend more time on Tatooine in the beginning, getting to know Luke as more than just a whiny farm boy. Or, at least, he has a bigger motivation for wanting to leave the planet than originally portrayed in the movie.

The acting done by Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and Anthony Daniels is top quality. However, most of the cast from the first film do not make an appearance. That being said, the only actor who felt out of place was the person playing Darth Vader. Even so, near the end I came to accept the voice.

If there was one flaw early on that drove me up the wall it would be the unnatural timing of Darth Vader’s respirator. It went on and off constantly without any rhyme or reason. Thankfully it became background noise after a while, but when first introduced to one of the greatest villains in history, it came off as a grown man with breathing issues.

Fans of Star Wars and audio drama will be sure to get their money’s worth