Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I, Pod

I've always liked listening to the radio at night. Don't know why.

I also don't know why it took me about 6 months or so to figure out that I could slap the occasional, say, radio drama or SF/gaming podcast on my wife's iPod Nano and listen to it in bed. It's very likely that I delayed in thinking of it because I am immesurably dense.

We live in a golden age for this stuff, really, because podcasts are as common as the cold. So I'm looking around for science fiction shows, gaming shows, genre dramas, etc. I've only just begun, really, but already I've found a couple of stand-out.

Unfortunately, they stand out for the wrong reasons.

I love Traveller, so I was thrilled to find out that there's a Traveller radio play. It's in 4 chapters, and I downloaded them all and burned those mofos onto a CD last year and I put it in my truck and I drove to the games shop one day and I listened to the whole show and my brain melted. I'll be as polite as I can be and simply say that it's ill-produced, confusing and uninteresting. The protagonist, Ted D. Flask, is an unbelieveable (I mean "I Don't Believe In Him") character, and long stretches of voice-modulated, pretentiously-voiced narration are hammered in whereaction and dialogue would've been more interesting.

The shame is this: It's Traveller, and Traveller, to me, means "potential". The plot, by and large, isn't so bad, but it's allowed to meander with little sense of pacing. Plus, Ted's a prick. Sadly, I listened to the entire production as a kind of nerd-macho endurance test, and ultimately labelled it the worst SF audio drama I'd ever heard.

Granted, at that point, I ain't heard nothin. Last night, I heard Chapter 3 of "Mission of Gravity".

From my dear 1985 comes this...umn...


...okay. Here's the thing. There's a SF radio program called "Destinies - The Voice Of Science Fiction". It's at least 22 years old and frankly it's awesome. I've heard 3 episodes of it so far, featuring book reviews, interviews (I've heard Mark Leonard, George Takei, John Buscema and Larry Niven) and some radio drama. I heard a pretty good Star Trek: TOS adventure, part of a so-so Conan adventure, and the thing I heard last night.

"Mission of Gravity".

The plot:

Who knows?

Ostensibly it's these two spacers who are tracing a shipment of illegal drugs. Okay, cool. Only this is what I heard:

Two guys mumbling, one of the guys mumbling while a dude with his head inside a bucket made grunting alien noises, the two guys mumbling, a bunch of noises which were explained as a bar fight, some exposition about climbing a tower to get to acomputer, more of the two guys mumbling, a gun fight with no rhyme or reason, the guys mumbling again, and then the sweet, merciful release of the segement's end.

I am not even kidding, folks, I literally exhaled with relief when it was over. I need to impress upon you that the mumbled dialogue, by the way, appeared to be unscripted, awkward exchanges consisting of, oh, about 3-8 words apiece. "Yeah. Climb that. Take off your jacket, why don't you? Go to the computer. Yeah. No, wait. Uh-huh? Tell me more info. Uh-huh."

I don't know if it was meant as a joke, back in my dearest 1985, but...holy god, it was SO. VERY. BAD.

The rest of Destinies? Good stuff. "Mission of Gravity"? Crap.

Anyway, I just found this website and I plan to mine it fr all it's got, once, uh, once I get my broadband problem fixed at home.

Both of these horrid little audio dramas really, really make me wish I had audio production facilities. I mean, really wish it.

But I don't.