Armchair Audies 2017: Original Work Category Pick!

Original Work

To determine my pick for the Original Work category, I ran a series of Head-to-Head contests between the five titles nominated. While the comments below each of the contest below are short, you can check out the full reviews I wrote for each of the titles by clicking on the clinks of the title in the #Head2Head subject lines.


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#Head2Head #1: The Dispatcher vs The Adventures of Tom Stranger
“Tom Stranger” is furiously funny and fast-paced; and Adam Baldwin does not disappoint; but Correia is a Sad Puppy; and the manatee character sounds like a whale. And by now, we all know how perfect I think The Dispatcher is!
Winner of Round #1: The Dispatcher


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#Head2Head #2: The Dispatcher vs Alien: Out of the Shadows 
This basically comes down to The Dispatcher having a cleaner script/story and Alien: Out of the Shadows being over-produced. So far, The Dispatcher is holding its own in two Armchair Audies categories!
Winner of Round #2: The Dispatcher


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#Head2Head #3: The Dispatcher vs CarTalk Science: MIT Wants Its Diplomas Back
Tom Magliozzi passed away a couple of years ago, so it was fun to hear takes from the show he did with his brother, Ray. As always, they guarantee to put a smile on your face; but I have to admit that listening to them crack each other up segment after segment wore thin even within the short runtime of this original work. It seems that this was designed to entertain more than educate. So, by default, again, The Dispatcher!
Winner of Round #3: The Dispatcher


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#Head2Head #4: The Dispatcher vs In the Embers
In the penultimate head-to-head challenge in this category, The Dispatcher wins by virtue of excellent production quality and a well-written story. I think the world of Robin Miles, and there was a lot of work that went into In the Embers; but in the end, it felt too much like community theater. I have issues with the script and post-production of In the Embers, and annoyed at having to listen to two hours of interviews.
Winner of Round #4: The Dispatcher


 

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#Head2Head #5: The Dispatcher vs Pete Seeger, Storm King, Vol. 2
I was pleasantly surprised at the quality and format of Pete Seeger, Storm King, Vol. 2: Pete Seeger tells an anecdote about his life; and a corresponding song, poem, or interview follows. It’s unique and interesting; but a bit slow.  Also, it doesn’t really stand-alone. You need to listen to the first volume to get the full effect. I found The Dispatcher much more engaging.
Winner of Round #5: The Dispatcher


My pick for the 2017 Armchair Audies in the Original Work category:

The Dispatcher


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OTHER: I receive no monies, goods, or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.

 

Armchair Audies 2017: Audio Drama Category Pick!

Audio Drama

To determine my pick for the Audio Drama category, I ran a series of Head-to-Head contests between the five titles nominated. While the comments below each of the contest below are short, you can check out the full reviews I wrote for each of the titles by clicking on the clinks of the title in the #Head2Head subject lines.


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#Head2Head #1: Alien: Out of the Shadows vs In the Embers
In this first #Head2Head challenge, Alien: Out of the Shadows, An Audible Original Drama easily outclasses In the Embers in terms of script, sound effects and overall production values. Kudos to Robin Miles though, who is an amazing voice actor and singer in In the Embers.
Winner of Round #1: Alien: Out of the Shadows, An Audible Original Drama


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#Head2Head #2: Alien: Out of the Shadows vs The Mountaintop
Alien: Out of the Shadows
is sexy; but The Mountaintop has a better script, acting, and message. Substance wins out over style this round!
Winner of Round #2: The Mountaintop


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#Head2Head #3: The Mountaintop vs Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor Adventures: Death and the Queen
It’s Doctor King versus Doctor Who! And in this round, it’s The Mountaintop for its straightforward, powerful message and understated production aesthetic over the razzmatazz BBC audio drama and David Tennant’s mumbling. Sometimes, less is more!
Winner of Round #3: The Mountaintop


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#Head2Head #4: The Mountaintop vs Doctor Who: The War Doctor: Only the Monstrous
In the final #Head2Head challenge, The Mountaintop with its understated production but powerful results wins over the sophisticated script and orchestration of The War Doctor: Only the Monstrous.
Winner of Round #4: The Mountaintop


My pick for the 2017 Armchair Audies in the Audio Drama category:

The Mountaintop


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OTHER: I receive no monies, goods, or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.

Armchair Audies 2017: Science Fiction Category Pick!

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To determine my pick for the Science Fiction category, I ran a series of Head-to-Head contests between the five titles nominated. While the comments below each of the contest below are short, you can check out the full reviews I wrote for each of the titles by clicking on the clinks of the title in the #Head2Head subject lines. Please note, that I did not write a review for Crosstalk as I did not finish listening to it (see below.)


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#Head2Head #1: Star Wars: The Force Awakens vs The Dispatcher
While I appreciate the challenges that are involved in producing a Star Wars audiobook and the shear sexiness of a Star Wars title in general; The Dispatcher comes out ahead for its originality (story,) excellent narration, and clean production values.
Winner of Round #1: The Dispatcher


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#Head2Head #2: The Dispatcher vs The Book of the Unnamed Midwife
Scalzi’s novella left me screaming for more; but Elison’s post-apocalyptic vision, while heavy with import, suffered from a surfeit of story.
Winner of Round #2: The Dispatcher


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#Head2Head  #3: The Dispatcher vs Sleeping Giants
The Dispatcher holds it own against Sleeping Giants! I found both stories intriguing and the audios well produced; but while I crave more Dispatcher adventures, I found myself okay with waiting for the sequel, Waking Giants.
Winner of Round #3: The Dispatcher


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#Head2Head #4: The Dispatcher vs Crosstalk
Concept, story, and execution are perfect in The Dispatcher; but while there was a great concept going for Crosstalk, poor story/execution and narrator issues made it unbearable for me to listen to. I ended up bailing on Crosstalk.
Winner of Round #4: The Dispatcher


My pick for the 2017 Armchair Audies in the Science Fiction category:

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OTHER: I receive no monies, goods, or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.

Print Review: New Boy

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New Boy
By Tracy Chevalier
Penguin Random House | Hogarth
Release Date (Hardback): May 16, 2017
ISBN 9781524779467
LITERARY-FICTION

Othello is William Shakespeare’s tragedy about the jealous rage of the eponymous Moor, the fate of his fair and artless wife, Desdemona, and the machinations of Othello’s Ancient, Iago. Set on the exotic eastern Mediterranean island of Venetian Cyprus, Othello’s role as defender is rendered moot when the Ottoman Empire’s fleet founders in a storm; but isolates the key players in a foreign milieu.

Tracy Chevalier has chosen to re-interpret Shakespeare’s play through the lens of her own experience as a white “minority… growing up in Washington, D.C.” (from tchevalier.com.) The author has set New Boy in a public elementary school in the DC Metro area (in 1974) wherein a Ghanian boy is the student introduced into a playground of all white children and teachers. Setting the action of the novel in a place where “kids get together at recess and break up at lunch time,” and where such trial relationships are often intense if ephemeral, rings true; and mirrors Shakespeare’s Cyprian island in its physically limited venue away from home. But it also poses the first issue of the novel in that in inverting the racial composition of the community, the author has completely subverted the WDC culture; and readers familiar with the area and time period will immediately sense the forced contrivance.

Where Ms Chevalier succeeds is in the POV of Dee (the Desdemona surrogate,) the white girl who becomes quickly fascinated with the black student, Osei (Othello); Dee seems to have the most depth of the characters, though the aggressive pursuit of a relationship with Osei seems a bit mature for a pre-pubescent; and ahead of her time in its progressive aspect. Nonetheless, she negotiates the school with an artlessness that seems genuine. Unfortunately, the other characters are rendered as flat stereotypes such as the racist teacher, the popular boy, the schoolyard bully, etc.

Moreover, while The Bard’s play includes the issue of racism (as epitomized in Desdemona’s father,) the issue of Othello’s blackness is muted by his military successes and the esteem of his colleagues. Ms Chevalier touches very briefly on non-racial themes in her novel; but it is, by and large a book reduced to the racial aspect. The jealousies of Osei (Othello,) Rod (Rodrigo) and Ian (Iago) are all predicated on the issue of Osei being black. By reducing Othello into a story solely about race, the other themes are underdeveloped and/or nonexistent in Tracy Chevalier’s re-telling.

Overall, this was an extremely disappointing read; and underscores a personal suspicion that the idea of the Hogarth Shakespeare series is more appealing than any of its actual executions.

OTHER:  I received an Advanced Reader’s Edition of New Boy (by Tracy Chevalier) through the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program. I receive no monies, goods or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.