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Kevin Boone

London
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  • Unseen Academicals

  • An Audible Original Drama
  • By: Terry Pratchett
  • Narrated by: David Jason, Jon Culshaw, Mathew Horne, and others
  • Length: 4 hrs and 32 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 940
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 875
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 874

Football has come to the ancient city of Ankh-Morpork - not the old fashioned, grubby pushing and shoving but the new, fast football with pointy hats for goalposts and balls that go gloing when you drop them. And now, the wizards of Unseen University must win a football match, without using magic, so they're in the mood for trying everything else. The prospect of the Big Match draws in a street urchin with a wonderful talent for kicking a tin can, a maker of jolly good pies, a dim but beautiful young woman who might just turn out to be the greatest fashion model there has ever been, and the mysterious Mr Nutt.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Terrible adaptation of a wonderful book

  • By Kate on 10-07-18

I should have liked this more

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 30-08-18

There's absolutely nothing wrong with this that I can articulate. It's expertly acted with great production values (apart from Audible's nasty 64kbps delivery, which doesn't seem to bother anybody else). The music and sound effects are well-integrated and apposite. The story is -- well, maybe that's the problem.

I think the problem is that Terry Pratchett's later books really can't be abridged. What makes them special is the subtlety of the prose, and the inner lives of the characters. Most of that is lost when a book is abridged, and adapting for an audio drama is a kind of abridging, since this presentation is only about four hours long. All the _plot_ is there -- all the actual events that take place in the book, take place in the audio play as well. Some of the dialog is rendered word-for-word, and the character voices are as I imagined them from the book.

In the end, however, the book isn't about plot -- it's a satire on contemporary social values, presented as a fantasy adventure story. The audio drama, however, is just a fantasy adventure drama. Not a bad one, as these thing go, but not good enough to stand on its own.

There's nothing bad about this -- I don't regret buying it; it's just not as good as it could have been.

  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Hexagonal Phase

  • And Another Thing...
  • By: Eoin Colfer, Douglas Adams
  • Narrated by: Jane Horrocks, Sandra Dickinson, Mark Wing-Davey, and others
  • Length: 3 hrs and 39 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 164
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 154
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 153

The brand new BBC Radio 4 full-cast series based on And Another Thing… the sixth book in the famous Hitchhiker’s Guide "trilogy". Forty years on from the first ever radio series of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Arthur Dent and friends return in six brand new episodes, in which they are thrown back into the Whole General Mish Mash in a rattling adventure involving Viking Gods and Irish Confidence Tricksters, with our first glimpse of Eccentrica Gallumbits and a brief but memorable moment with The Ravenous Bugblatter Beast Of Traal.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Out With The Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal?

  • By Simon on 16-04-18

Too rooted in the 1980s to bring up to date

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-07-18

The original Hitchhiker's Guide was a science-fiction comedy but, more than that, it was a satire on 1980s values and preoccupations (bureaucracy, materialism, estate agents, Islington, cricket, digital watches...) I'm sure Adams developed the characters along lines that played up to his chosen themes.

I loved the original radio series and most of the books. But, for better or worse, the world has moved on. The original idea of a hand-held computer containing all the galaxy's knowledge was far-fetched in 1980 but, in fact, it's low-tech now, along with digital watches. Many of the hot-ticket issues of the 80s are no longer of much interest. So we are left with characters and situations that were ideal for exploring the oddities of Thatcher's England, but don't make all that much sense now.

Eoin Colfer's story and characterization are true to the original, but that's the problem -- Adams already did everything that could be done with those characters thirty-odd years ago, when their social context actually made sense. We can satirize our present-day concerns and foibles and probably we should; but we can't use 80s themes to do it -- it just doesn't work.

So what we're left with, in this presentation, is a church wedding for atheists -- all the familiar trappings are there, but the fundamental purpose has been lost. What we have is a sort of homage to the original story, with all the characters' most memorable traits (Arthur Dent's craving for tea, etc) brought out repeatedly like a music-hall comedian's catch-phrase.

I can't fault the production, or the acting, or even the dramatization; but I feel sure that, if Douglas Adams were still with us, he wouldn't be writing this stuff any more. And I'm not sure that anybody else should be.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Out of Spite, Out of Mind

  • Magic 2.0, Book 5
  • By: Scott Meyer
  • Narrated by: Luke Daniels
  • Length: 7 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 748
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 713
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 712

When you discover the world is a computer program, and you figure out that by altering the code you can time travel and perform acts that seem like magic, what can possibly go wrong? Pretty much everything. Just ask Brit, who has jumped around in time with such abandon that she has to coexist with multiple versions of herself. Now, Brit the Elder finds that her memories don't match Brit the Younger's.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Better than 4 not as good as 1,2 or 3.

  • By J Breckenridge on 21-06-18

Please, God, let this be the last one

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-07-18

The first couple of books in this series were clever and funny, and had an engaging plot premise. That premise -- that what we perceive as life and reality is just a computer program -- was not original, but it was handled in an innovative way. The later books were also clever and funny but, frankly, less so; and the plot premise is getting stale now. The story reads as if the author is fed up with the characters, and just wants to get it all over with. I got the same impression when reading the last book in the Hitchhiker's Guide series -- but in that case Douglas Adams openly admitted that he was sick of the characters, and only wrote the book because of nagging from fans. In this book, however, the ending certainly suggests that there could be another one in the works -- Heaven help us.

The plot of Out of Spite is based on the paradoxical peculiarities of time travel. As the story unfolds, the situation gets increasingly complex and bizarre, with multiple instances of the same character in the same place at the same time. I honestly don't know if all the paradoxes resolve at the end, because I'd lost interest in following the plot by then.

Scott Meyer is a capable author, and his books deal with complex philosophical problems in a refreshingly witty way. I just think that this particular story vein has been mined out.

Luke Daniels' narration was excellent, as always.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Contact

  • Alien Invasion, Book 2
  • By: Sean Platt, Johnny B. Truant
  • Narrated by: Ray Porter
  • Length: 9 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 58
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 55
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 54

Find the missing. Fear the found. Three months have passed since the aliens' arrival, but little has changed in the skies. Motherships still hover, impervious to attack and communication. Spherical shuttles ferry about with unclear intentions. But the abductions of select humans have ended, and most of those taken have been returned - dazed, incoherent, and prophesying glory or doom, but home where they belong. Still, nine seemingly unconnected people remain missing.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • So is the world ending, or what?

  • By Kevin Boone on 25-06-18

So is the world ending, or what?

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 25-06-18

The first book in this series introduced a very muted alien invasion. The motherships just hovered there, not doing a great deal. Meanwhile, society responded by falling apart. I'm not entirely sure this is a viable plot premise -- my feeling is that if alien motherships arrived, most people would be taking photos for Instragram, or trying to find ways to use them for advertising. Maybe the destruction of society is what we deserve.

This second book focuses on mostly the same characters, although some new people and places are introduced. The characterization is mostly reasonably convincing, and the narrator renders most of the dialog well.

The problem is -- nothing really happens. Are the aliens going to invade, or not? We don't get a whole lot of new information, and it seems that most of the characters are just running around in circles most of the time. About half-way through I wondered if I would bother listening to the rest. I did, as it happens, but I didn't get a whole lot out of it.

I don't feel hugely motivated to read the next book in the series. If I'm shipwrecked on a desert island with it, I probably will; otherwise, probably not.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Unsafe Haven

  • Surviving the Evacuation, Book 4
  • By: Frank Tayell
  • Narrated by: Fiona Hardingham
  • Length: 7 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 115
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 104
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 104

There are no reported outbreaks in the UK or Ireland. That's what the government broadcasted. Nilda didn't believe it. Not trusting the authorities, she, and her son, Jay, stay behind when Penrith is evacuated. After weeks of rationing, there is little food left in the small town and many other survivors competing for it. Choosing diplomacy over violence, she attempts to forge a community out of a disparate group. As zombies gather outside their walls, she realizes that they will have to seek sanctuary elsewhere.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Wasn't sure about a change in narrator but ended up loving it

  • By Sara England on 23-01-17

A solid addition to the series, but...

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 29-04-18

...it's getting harder to sustain the pace. The great things about this series are that (a) it's set in Britain and (b) it features unremarkable, believable people. This book continues the story, but told from a different point of view, and expanding some of the earlier events. The events surrounding the zombie outbreak are pretty shocking, but they don't really get any more shocking when told again, or by somebody else. To maintain the pace, the story really needs to move on. Perhaps it will, in the next book.

  • Ep. 1 (Zombies, Run!: The Way of All Flesh)

  • By: Naomi Alderman
  • Length: 20 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 29
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 28
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 28

Jody and Chris, runners from Abel Township, take shelter from the zombie horde in a mysterious country house, Gadsen Manor. They have company — who seem friendly at first. But when things turn sour, where will suspicion fall?

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Good, but why in pieces

  • By Annika on 03-04-18

Didn't get beyond the first episode

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 29-04-18

We have a real glut of zombie stories in popular culture. I can't really understand the enduring appeal of the genre but, whatever the explanation, a zombie story really has to distinguish itself to be worth the effort. This one doesn't. If you've been in your apocalyptic bunker since the 60s, and have never seen/read/heard any zombie movies/books/etc then maybe this will seem original to you. For the rest of us, who are completely sated with zombies by now, it's just a bit of a yawn. It's not actually awful -- it's just not good enough to sustain interest in zombies.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Alien: Sea of Sorrows

  • An Audible Original Drama
  • By: James A. Moore, Dirk Maggs
  • Narrated by: John Chancer, Stockard Channing, Walles Hamonde, and others
  • Length: 5 hrs and 7 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,469
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,358
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,352

Set 300 years after the events of Alien: Out of the Shadows and Alien: River of Pain, Alien: Sea of Sorrows deals with the rediscovery of dormant Xenomorphs (Aliens) in the abandoned mines of LV-178, the planetoid from Alien: Out of the Shadows, which has now been terraformed and renamed New Galveston. The Weyland-Yutani Corporation, reformed after the collapse of the United Systems Military, continue their unceasing efforts to weaponise the creatures.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Drowning in Aliens!

  • By Simon on 26-04-18

Little left to scrape out of this barrel...

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 29-04-18

I don't think this is really a spoiler -- a bunch of space marine types go in search of aliens, and most of them get eaten. it's the same basic plot as the previous goodness-knows-how-many alien books, moves, and audio dramas. I can't fault the production -- the voice acting is perfectly competent, and it's clearly well engineered and edited. The music is appropriate and the sound effects engaging.

But... there just isn't any more to scrape out of the barrel. It's empty. In truth, it was empty twenty years ago, but we just kept on scraping at it. The plot element that is slightly new in this presentation is that one of the characters has some kind of psychic connection to the critters, and reveals something of their personality. For me, this doesn't work at all -- the aliens should be, well, alien; completely incomprehensible to human rationality. To attribute human-like emotional states to them -- fear, hate, revenge -- just weakens the suspense.

I don't regret buying this, but I doubt I will be buying any more like it.

  • Good Omens

  • The BBC Radio 4 dramatisation
  • By: Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman
  • Narrated by: Mark Heap, Full Cast, Peter Serafinowicz
  • Length: 4 hrs and 19 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,267
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,153
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,150

A full-cast BBC Radio 4 dramatisation of Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman’s celebrated apocalyptic comic novel, with bonus length episodes and outtakes. According to the Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday in fact. Just after Any Answers on Radio 4….Events have been set in motion to bring about the End of Days. The armies of Good and Evil are gathering and making their way towards the sleepy English village of Lower Tadfield.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent radio adaption

  • By Alex Goff on 23-02-16

A workmanike adaptation of a fantasy classic

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 21-03-18

There seems to be no limit to the number of times I can read Good Omens, and now, I suspect, I will listen to it many times as well. I just never seem to get tired of it.

This is a perfectly competent adaptation of the book, although there were a few minor plot changes that I found unnecessary and annoying. Possibly a person who is less familiar with the book won't notice these. It's hard to do justice to a good-length novel in a four-hour radio presentation, but all the characters are there, and a lot of the comedy. Some of the subtlety is lost, but I guess that is inevitable.

The sound effects and music were excellent, as were the production values in general. This presentation cries out to be made available in a higher-definition format than the highly-compressed delivery that Audible uses.

If I had one slight complaint, it would be that the voice acting is not always entirely convincing. Sometimes the actors sound a bit like they are reading lines, as if they hadn't entirely internalized their characters. I guess it's hard to portray, say, Pollution by voice-acting. Still, the voice of Death was pretty good.

All in all, pretty good.

  • The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire

  • The Complete Series
  • By: Rod Duncan
  • Narrated by: Gemma Whelan
  • Length: 29 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 541
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 502
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 503

The complete set of The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire trilogy, featuring The Bullet Catcher's Daughter, Unseemly Science and The Custodian of Marvels. Elizabeth Barnabus lives a double life - as herself and as her brother, the private detective. She is trying to solve the mystery of a disappearing aristocrat and a hoard of arcane machines. In her way stand the rogues, freaks and self-proclaimed alchemists of a travelling circus....

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Steampunk Adventuress rights wrongs

  • By Andrew on 23-02-18

Can't comlain - 29 hours for one Audible credit :)

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 21-03-18

This is a series of books set in an alternative Britain in which technological development essentially halted in the 18th century. The reasons presented for this state of affairs are reasonably convincing -- I can sort of see why things might have worked out that way. Mainland Britain is divided into two political entities, one a monarchy and one a republic. The different social attitudes between these states forms a considerable part of the plot structure of the books.

The central character is a woman, in a world where women have little status. I wasn't entirely convinced by the author's portrayal of gender politics -- attitudes to women in politics and science seem to shift somewhat from chapter to chapter. Still, the characters and their motivations were believable enough.

The three books present a more-or-less continuous narrative, but probably not a complete one. I wouldn't be all that surprised to find later volumes added to the series -- there's plenty of scope to do so. However, there are differences in the plotting and writing style between the books; I found the first most engaging, although, in fact, I listened to the whole thing from start to end with few breaks except to sleep. I found the ending of the last book a little disappointing -- the plot had become a little unbelievable by that point.

All in all, this is a decent series of books, and bundling them together represents exceptional value for money.

  • P. D. James BBC Radio Drama Collection

  • Seven Full-Cast Dramatisations
  • By: P. D. James
  • Narrated by: Greta Scacchi, Hugh Grant, full cast, and others
  • Length: 16 hrs and 37 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 314
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 279
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 275

Seven BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisations of P. D. James' acclaimed mysteries, plus P. D. James in Her Own Words. This collection includes: Cover Her Face, A Taste for Death, Devices and Desires, A Certain Justice, The Private Patient, An Unsuitable Job for a Woman and The Skull Beneath the Skin.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • enjoyable

  • By sue glason on 18-03-18

More PD James than you really need

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 21-03-18

I'm a bit of a fan of PD James, and there's no question that this offering represents great value for money. Seven full-cast dramatizations -- that's an awful lot of PD James for one Audible credit. It's actually a bit too much, if I'm being quite honest. I couldn't listen to the whole thing, and I've put it on the back-burner to come back to later.

The seven stories were (I think) recorded at different times by different actors, with different methods of dramatization. Some stories take the form of radio plays, where the whole thing is (voice-) acted. Some are essentially readings, but with some voice dialog. The plots are often too complicated to be carried entirely by voice-acting, but I don't particular like lengthy narration in some of the episodes, especially when it contains mostly dialog -- this should really be presented by an actor. What I'm trying to say is that the balance between acting and narration is not the same in all episodes, and in some episodes it's more effective than others.

Still, if Audible had just chosen the best three episodes and offered only those for one credit, I would have been satisfied. The others are just a bonus.

12 of 17 people found this review helpful