Podcast Review #3: The Antithesis Progression Book One: Predestination and Other Games of Chance

Title: The Antithesis Progression Book One: Predestination and Other Games of Chance
Author: J. Daniel Sawyer
Music by: Danny Schade
Genre: Science Fiction
Released: 2 August 2008 – 1 May 2008
Located: PodiobooksAuthor’s SiteiTunes
Formats available: podcast, dead tree
Tagline: It isn’t whether you win or lose. It’s how you rig the game.

Greetings and welcome to the third Podcast Review.

Early summer 2009, I was beginning to run out of things to listen to so I posed to Twitter the very eloquent question, “What should I listen to?” and I wasn’t surprised at all when the answers I received were as diverse as they were copious. Without having received a definitive answer, I was about to begin trolling iTunes and Podiobooks for something new when I started hearing of something new having just been completed, and when I asked several people I trusted about it, I got an answer I had never heard before. And this answer intrigued me. The essence of what I was told was, “This is a great story, but it isn’t for the background. You have to be paying attention when you listen.” Wait. A thinking man’s science fiction? My decision was made.

The podcast in question was Predestination and Other Games of Chance, and the author J. Daniel Sawyer (@dsawyer on Twitter). As often happens on Twitter, when you start talking about someone, somehow they show up and join the conversation. (Truly one of the things that never ceases to delight me.) When Mr. Sawyer found out I was going to listen, the first, and only, thing he asked was, “Please tell me what you think.” (To which the delightful Philippa Jane Ballantine replied, “You won’t have to worry about that.” LOL) Well Dan, you might have waited a bit to get my full thoughts, but here they are.

One more item of notice. As you should be able to tell from the title, Predestination is the first in a series entitled The Antithesis Progression. The second book in the series, Free Will and Other Compulsions, is currently in production. Some reviewers would probably wait and review all the books in the series together. If that works for them, that is fine. I won’t do that however. Can you imagine if the Jaws franchise reviewed number 4 (remember number 4?) along with the original? Now, I can honestly say I expect no such disparity among the Antithesis stories, but I still feel that each book deserves it’s own review, and this is a rule I will adhere to (except when I don’t) throughout my podcast reviews.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: “In the Port of Call bar on Space Station Sidon a man sits at a card game. He’s ruthless, he’s unforgiving, and he almost never loses. His name is Alex Hart, and he is waiting for someone.

Reuben Briggs never could play nice with others. As a professor he couldn’t stay out of trouble. As the National Security Advisor he couldn’t resist using other people’s secrets to leverage his agenda. He always attracted the wrong kind of attention, and in 2125 that attention turned deadly. A Lunar judge wants his secrets, a corrupt senator wants him dead, the Green Lady wants his fealty, and Alex Hart wants to play cards with him.

Walking into the Port of Call, Briggs thinks he’s left all the bounty hunters behind him. But in the looking-glass world above the gravity well, he’s about to discover that survival, like poker, is just another sport.

And in this contest, it’s not whether you win or lose. It’s how you rig the game.”

As a reminder, I don’t do synopses. The above was pulled from the Podiobooks site. As far as a synopsis goes, it is about as good as you could hope for for this book. It also isn’t even close. More about that later.

Production: Well, to put it simply, production doesn’t really get any better than this. Mr. Sawyer states in his bio that he has a decades worth of experience in audio production, and from the first episode (which really isn’t the beginning of the story) you can tell he speaks the truth. The audio is simply lavish. Through some sort of compulsion (personally, I’m suspecting blackmail and/or ninjas), Sawyer obtained the services of composer Danny Schade, meaning all of the music for Predestination is original and spot on.

I do remember early on Sawyer switching out equipment and mentioning it in the outro. Truthfully, I don’t really remember it making a difference, but what I DO remember is thinking, my God, he sure is putting a lot of effort into this podcast’s sound. And it shows.

For those of you who plan on regularly following this series of reviews, I will try to start preparing a key to let you know to skip this paragraph. I mean how many times do you want to hear me complain about The Story So Far? (That’s your clue, you can skip down now.) I mentioned this in my review of Brand Gamblin’s Tumbler, and I will probably be mentioning it many more times. Suffice it to say, I’m not a fan of the device. I’m not the author, and definitely not trying to tell anyone what to do. I’ve been told it is necessary to remind the listener of current events when producing serialized fiction. All I can say is, I routinely skip them. In less time than it takes for me to listen to TSSF, I have remembered the details just by jumping into the latest ep.

Cast: This is a podcast with an amazing cast. I have no idea how Sawyer can coordinate and mix this amount of voice talent. It is amazing. You will forget that he does not have all the players sitting in a studio with him. It is seamless.

Story: I’ve always been told that if you want to keep out of controversy, don’t discuss politics, religion or sex. Sawyer obviously wants to stir controversy.

Before I delve in too far, I would recommend to anyone that has not previously listened to Predestination, that you instead start with The Prequel: Man in the Rain before you listen to the first episode. It is labeled as such, but is actually dropped in the feed AFTER episode one.

Going back to the statement, “You have to be paying attention when you listen.” Yes. There is no other way to state it. You MUST be paying attention. I consider this a good thing. I love all types of stories. I love light hearted humorous tales. I love (well done) comic romance. I’ll read almost anything. BUT, to my chagrin, I find “thinking man’s” science fiction greatly missing in podcast fiction (hold on, don’t flame me yet). What I’m calling thinking man’s science fiction is scifi that challenges your psyche in a number of ways. That makes you uncomfortable but won’t allow you to disagree with the motivation of the character. Characters that would probably never be your friends, but that you would respect. From a distance.

Predestination is this.

This story has more twists than Chubby Checker could have anticipated, but they all have a direction and a purpose. This story will not be for everyone. I don’t think Mr. Sawyer anticipated it being so. But it is a very well written story and beautifully crafted. It contains mature themes: sex, violence, religious intolerance, and POKER.

Verdict: If you are easily offended with any of the things mentioned in the preceding sentence you might want to give this one a pass. If you are not, and you enjoy a well written, lovingly detailed stay up listening story, you’ll find this a must listen.

I have never met J.D. Sawyer, but have followed him on Twitter since beginning the Predestination podcast. He is not what I would call verbose in that setting, but will talk to you if you have something to say that interests him. I have not received anything from him in return for this review.

[ed. note 26 April, 2011] Further Disclosure: You will find a quote from this review adorning the cover of the dead tree cover of this book, while I am honored, it still would not affect anything contained in this review.

NEXT: Harvey by Phil Rossi

Comment Pages

There are 2 Comments to "Podcast Review #3: The Antithesis Progression Book One: Predestination and Other Games of Chance"

  • aradasky says:

    Well, I think JD should at least send over a deck of cards for this review. Well done, for a very good podcasted SciFi. That is a thinking WOMAN’s scifi…. 🙂

    • odin1eye says:

      LOL… well a deck of cards would be a form of remuneration and I couldn’t accept it. Although, poker lessons would be fun… Thanks for posting!

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