I haven’t managed to regular-read quite as much as I would like so far in this summer’s Reading Program (so much to do!). But as I said in an earlier post, reading to people and being read to by people counts, and so do audiobooks.
I caught up on the episodes of a podcast that I was listening to on my MP3 player, cleared them off the player, and added some audiobooks (for the most part from podiobooks.com) that I’ve downloaded but haven’t listened to over the past few years. I’ve got folders labelled that I downloaded the contents in 2013, 2014 and 2015 – some I obviously didn’t get to last time round.
The first book I listened to this time round, though, was not from Podiobooks, and I already had it lurking on the player.
Some background: Back when I was working nights in a distribution center, I came across the wonderful world of podcasts. One of the shows I listened to back then, was The Signal podcast, which is/was for the most part Firefly/Serenity themed. (Their segment about other shows you might enjoy was the main exception to the theme, and I’ve investigated, watched and enjoyed some of those shows.)
One episode (Season 3 Episode 7), an ambitious young writer weaselled his way onto the show, talking about a novel he was serialising on Podiobooks. The author had managed to get Nathan Fillion to read “The Story So Far” on one episode of the book. The show’s hosts, in their banter between segments, mentioned enjoying the progress of the book, “7th Son”, over a bunch of following episodes.
The 7th Son Trilogy (Descent, Deceit and Destruction – you get to the end of Deceit and say to yourself, “The NEXT book is called Destruction?!??!”) was the first audiobook I listened to in my grown-up life (the Transformers Tell-A-Tales and Disney Read-Alongs of my childhood being very distant now). J.C. Hutchins sucked me into his world (which I periodically revisit), and set the stage for me enjoying many more worlds.
In January 2014, Mr. Hutchins set out on a new project: The 33. The 33 are a a bunch of misfits with particular skills. When something beyond the scope of public knowledge threatens the world, a few would be selected to go on a mission and save the world. J.C. intended to release one episode a month, a sort of experiment.
As experiments are wont to do, this one didn’t go quite as intended. He got 7 episodes into the project: less than he intended, but not a bad run.
I think Mr Hutchins had a plan for each months’ episode to be about an hour long, and had a notion of how many parts each story would be. Unfortunately, he’s a wordy bastard like me, so the first story, “Pramantha”, was advertised as 4 parts: Part 1 clocked in at an hour and ten minutes, Part 2 was an hour and a half, Part 3 was two hours and a quarter, and Part 4 ended up split into two files (“Side A” and “Side B” – 1hr58m and 1hr52m respectively).
“Ten Minutes” was kind of a bonus episode that was sort of “Thanks for being patient” (13mins long). Then we were back to regular episodes, “Needles” Parts 1 and 2. Part 1 was again an hour and ten minutes, Part 2 was 2hrs37m.
One can’t help but wonder if announcing in advance how many episodes a story would be, pushed J.C. into a corner: if you’ve allocated the time for writing, editing and recording an episode that’s 1hr10m, and two of your episodes end up twice that and another is nearly four hours long, coming to the conclusion that such effort is unsustainable, is very understandable.
I hadn’t listened to Needles, yet, so that became my first audiobook of the season.
J.C.’s reading voice is solid, as always. J.C.’s writing is characteristically suspenseful, and again he was on fine form. Lots of these scenes are easy to picture in your head. There’s some stuff that has the potential to make really good screen (and it’s already really good audio and book).
Needles seemed less “Oh dear, the world is going to crack open like an egg” that I felt with 7th Son and Pramantha. That did not seem to be a particular weakness. There was still plenty of tension, plenty of characterisation, the team when it got along and also when it didn’t.
Most memorable part: probably a point in Part 2 when there was something that shouldn’t move, and it did. (Not wanting to be too spoiler-y.)
I hope Mr Hutchins finds a way to resume experimenting.
J.C. Hutchins’ stories are not “family friendly”. I enjoyed notorious horror author Scott Sigler’s comments at the end of a 7th Son episode, saying that J.C. writes material that is much more screwed up than Sigler’s. There is plenty of language (most of it English, and some of which is swear words).
But remember folks: it’s only Not Safe For Work if you share your headphones. Stay safe out there.