I’m going to start reviewing podcasts as I complete them. Since I believe in stealing only from the best I shall be using a format similar to Odin at View from Valhalla. I don’t promise that these reviews will be as good or as regular as his, but I will dedicate this first one to him. Go over to his site. He’s reviewed sixty-three podcasts (including Archangel: Valley of the Shadow).
Synopsis: What if by simply Writing a Word you could build a wall, light a fire, or cloud someone’s mind? In an environment like this Alan Porter struggles to use his talents to overthrow a totalitarian government that controls the masses by controlling Words. Access to Writing materials is restricted, and creating Verse without a license is severely punished. Raised in this atmosphere of systematic censorship, Alan heeds the irresistible call of Words to create a better world.
Now Alan gathers people who will fight with him to bring about a society based on freedom. In a war where the weapons are stylus, paper, and Words, he is the only one who can lead the battle and show the way to victory, a fight that Alan Porter wages even long after his death, because he is the Guerrilla Poet.
Production: The audio quality is good and he does use some musical cues and some light effects. In a world where podcasters seem to go overboard on these things, I like a light touch.
Cast: This is a straight read a la Scott Sigler. For those of you not “in the know” on the reference that means that Mr. Hughes, like Mr. Sigler, does give each character their own inflection and tone. While I wouldn’t say that Hughes is anything like a voice actor, I can say that this didn’t detract from the story and did serve to distinguish characters. His reading of the narration is done in his own voice and his reading style is what I would call a bit soothing. Perhaps not ideal for a story that involves a fair amount of tension.
Story: This is a story within a story. While the synopsis would lead you to believe that this story is all about Alan Porter, the titular poet, there is a framing device around it. I think that this story would have worked better simply as the story of Porter, told in first person perhaps, that served as a prequel for what’s going on in the “here and now” world of Trev Haroldson. The frame seems to weaken both stories a little. The villains were also more than a little two-dimensional. Still, there’s a strong dystopian sci-fi vibe with a dash of fantasy and I like the characters and end up caring about them all. That goes a long way towards smoothing over the story cracks. I also like the world he developed and how it feels one world removed from our own.
Verdict: The more podcasts I listen to the more I like to “mainline” them. That is, I wait til production finishes and consume them in large chunks. I did that with this one and it definitely had me coming back to it time and again. I would say if you’re looking for a new author this is one that deserves to be checked out. If you decide to listen, give it a few episodes, because it does get off to a little bit of a slow start.