Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Review: Arbiter Chronicles

The Arbiter Chronicles is the main output of Prometheus Radio Theatre. It's a sci-fi series similar to Star Trek: a navy spaceship patrols the galaxy encountering aliens and having adventures. The crew are a group of misfits from various planets and some are descendents of genetically altered humans (which adds some colour). There are currently 14 stories over approx. 50 podcasts, however they are not podcast in order (series 2 is before series 1 - the first episode starts on 11/24/06). The stories are pretty much self contained so this doesn't matter too much, though starting with the first story helps with working out who's who. This website gives more information on the story, episodes and characters.

The stories are generally interesting and well written with some good comic moments and plotting. The characters are a bit familiar from other sci-fi series, however this doesn't stop it from being enjoyable. I did have problems sometimes following who was who - this is partly due to cast members with similar voices, though more pointers from the writer would be useful and would help in identifying with individual characters. The acting is variable (some actors are better than others), as is the sound. Some of the stories were recorded in front of an audience and in some cases certain characters are difficult to hear. Overall I've enjoyed what I've heard, and will be listening to other stories in this series - check it out if you like sci-fi.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Other audio drama blogs etc...

Well, now that I've written a few posts, I should let you know about a couple of other existing blogs on audio drama.

Firstly there's the great audio addict blog which is well established and has lots of cool stuff (and lots of links). Although it supposedly deals with all things audio, the majority of the posts are about audio drama, with some great news and reviews.

The other main blog I visit is Radio drama revival. They also have an excellent podcast featuring dramas (series and individual stories) from various different companies (including some you'd otherwise have to pay money for!). The blog also contains news and reviews from the world of audio drama and links to new dramas.

There are also lots of other blogs out there on specific podcasts and mainly contain information on their own audio drama - interesting but not as useful as the blogs above. Also, there may well be some out there that I haven't heard of - if so let me know!

Review: The Failed Cities Monologues

Well, I'm very glad I decided to review the Parsec Awards finalists, since I probably wouldn't have listened to this podcast otherwise. This isn't the sort of story I'd normally go for, and I generally prefer drama to fiction readings, because they're more immediate and the story goes quicker! (yeh, I know - my attention span seems to be getting shorter as I get older!) Having said that, I have to say that I really enjoyed this production and will definitely be checking out other writing by this author.

The Failed Cities Monologues are "set in the dystopian future of an American metropolis divided, and told through the shifting perspectives of the characters who reside there. Eight lives. Two cities. One story." Each episode is told from the perspective of one of the characters and narrated by a different actor, with the parts fitting together to form a thriller about conspiracies and gang violence set in the future.

It is very well written with some interesting characters, although the format means that it takes a while to introduce all the characters and get into the story. The actors reading the parts are all very good (apart from Sally's appalling 'Cockney' accent) - the actors who play Sterne, Fera and Klimenko are particularly good. The use of music is good - each character has different background music which adds atmosphere, but isn't too intrusive (a pet hate of mine in audio dramas!) - as is the general sound quality.

The fomat is an ideal one for audio fiction - different characters acted by different people, but without the technical and practical difficulties of working with large crew. My one issue with this as a Parsec Award finalist is that I'm not sure it shouldn't be in the fiction story section rather than the audio drama section: my main argument is that it could easily be distributed as a book without any changes (although the actors and sound effects definitely add a lot). I do think it's a great production though and I highly recommend it!

Friday, August 24, 2007


Audio Drama Disorder: the disorder where you have to listen to that episode despite being at work, because you can still be focussed and productive while listening to your ipod - right?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Review: Second Shift

In the podcast audio drama Second Shift, three college students from Boston find themselves magically transported to another world. Season 1 deals with them learning about this new world, and the friends they meet while searching for a way home. The story is now onto season 2 (which is currently being podcast) but I won't tell you anything about it so as not to spoil season 1!

Although the premise of an alternate world with magic is certainly not original, the writers try to avoid cliches and concentrate on characterisation and realism. There are no 'dark lords' to defeat or dragons to slay, instead this is more about a group of young people trying to find their places in the world(s).

The acting is generally pretty good and the accents work well (it's impressive they manage to keep them consistent!). The sound quality is also decent, though there are a few rough edges in the first few episodes.

I've been listening to this show for a while and it's definitely one of my favourites - highly recommended!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Parsec Awards

The Parsec Awards are awards for speculative fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, horror) podcasts which are due to be awarded at the beginning of September during the Dragon*Con convention. There are two categories for audio drama (long and short), three categories for fiction and various other categories. The finalists in the audio drama sections are:

Best Audio Drama (Long Form)
Second Shift
The Failed Cities Monologues
Prometheus Radio Theatre - The Arbiter Chronicles

Best Audio Drama (Short Form)
The Radio Adventures Of Dr. Floyd
Pendant Productions - Indiana Jones and the Well of Life
Amazing Pulp Adventures Starring Mister Adventure
Firefly: Old Wounds
Pendant Productions - Batman: The Ace of Detectives

I was hoping to review all of these before the results, however I don't really have enough time now! I do hope to review all them at some point though.


Welcome to my first post! In this blog I'm planning to post news, discussion and reviews of audio dramas.

What is audio drama?
Audio drama (and for those search engines out there!) audio theatre, audio cinema, radio drama (when on the radio), pod drama/theatre/plays (when podcast) are dramatisations of stories using sound only. In the 'golden age' of radio, before TV, radio dramas were very popular, however nowadays there is much less drama on radio, particularly in the US. Some of these original 'old time radio' programs are available for free over the internet. Modern radio dramas are still being produced; the BBC in the UK has a number of new and repeated dramas available on Radio 4 and Radio 7 over the web. There are also companies who make audio dramas for sale on CD/tape.

Podcast drama
With the recent popularity in podcasting many groups are now producing their own dramas for free distribution over the web. Although many of these productions are not completely 'professional' quality, there are a lot of great stories and ideas out there, and both the quality and quantity of drama podcasts seem to be increasing each year. It's a great way for writers to get their stories heard, amateurs to have a go at acting and professionals to get experience - it always amazes me how much energy, time and soul everyone puts into these productions. So, a big thank you to everyone involved from this listener!