Podcast Review #8: V & A Shipping

Title: V & A Shipping
Author: J.R. Murdock
Genre: Science Fiction
Released: 2 August, 2009 – 15 December, 2009
Located: Podibooks, iTunes, Author’s Site
Formats Available: Podcast only

I’d been following J.R. Murdock (@jrmurdock) on twitter for quite a while now. I don’t know why he started following me or because of whom, but following my rules of engagement, he quickly earned a return follow and became a regular twit in my daily feed.

He would occasionally mention that he had a book that he was going to podcast, but his life seemed plenty busy at the time so for quite a while we didn’t see anything of this rumoured work. That changed in August of this year. And I’m glad it did.

Having followed Mr. Murdock for quite a while, I wasn’t surprised that the story contained many elements of his tweets. Namely sarcasm and an offbeat sense of humour. Two elements which make equally good tweets and stories in my opinion.

His story, V & A Shipping, was somewhat of a rarity for me though. Though I listen to many podcasts, most are not what what could be referred to as “mini-van safe”. Yeah, either the language, violence, or the sexual situations would preclude me allowing my children to hear them. When I come across a fun story that doesn’t run afoul of one of these excluders, I make note of it. I don’t know if Mr. Murdock purposefully wrote a family friendly story, or if that is just the way he writes, but it is a nice find.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: Vic and Argmon are just trying to make a simple delivery, albeit while being chased by the local fuzz. They pick up an unexpected stowaway on their planet to planet run.

Joey, the unwitting stowaway, is thrust into space and must deal with not only being in space, but with all the alien creatures aboard the SS Acid Rat.

Once the delivery is complete, Vic, Argmon, and their new crewmate Joey, are offered a double or nothing gamble to pick up a second delivey for the celebration party. They must return to Planchar in twenty-four standard hours with a shipment of beer.

It sounds so simple, perhaps too simple. (Stolen from Podiobooks.com)

Production: The production values of V & A Shipping were very simple, but very effective. The slightly discordant chimes used to transition major scenes was quite effective and not over done. Although other authors I’ve all ready reviewed have done similarly, I would also like to complement Mr. Murdock on his use of a “metacast” (the talk about the podcast). While his Captain’s Log episodes dropped in the regular feed, they were not included as part of the same episode as the story itself. Again, this is just my preference, but while I enjoy listening to many of the meta-shows, I also like to know how long the story itself is when I am preparing for the commute. It kills me when I think I have an hours worth of story only to find out that 40 minutes of it is related non-story material. (For the record, anything under or around 5 minutes doesn’t necessarily fall into this arbitrary rule.)

Around episode 15 or 16, Mr. Murdock purchased a new microphone, and you will probably notice that it sounds a bit different from the bumpers that were recorded with the previous mic. While I am glad that he was able to upgrade his system, I must admit that I thought the earlier episodes recorded with the original mic sounded just spiffy as well.

Cast: V & A Shipping is a straight forward reading by the author. As stated before, I always enjoy this. Depending on the cast involved, it can be a better listen not to have a cast involved. I can’t imagine V & A Shipping as a full cast audio drama, and I wouldn’t want it to be.

Story: V & A Shipping is a completely fun interstellar romp full of nods to Smokey and the Bandit. Mr. Murdock has a real talent for voicework and I would hope other podcasters would be thinking of signing him up as crew for future podcasts. I have to admit that I didn’t have a clue where the story was headed for the first couple of episodes, and was relatively surprised when it took a left turn into quirky and sardonic. The first time I heard the line, “Junior, get me a hamburger,” I literally started laughing out loud in the car. (Even more so when it was revealed what the intent of the imperative was.)

I remember (I hope correctly) Mr. Murdock stating that V & A Shipping was written as a NaNo WriMo book. Whether it was or not, it is enjoyable and much fun. I will say that very rarely you will find a paragraph that is awkwardly worded. Much more rarely than on these reviews however.

Verdict: V & A Shipping probably would not appeal to those that like their science fiction hard as nails and more serious than an autopsy. However, if you like a really fun, quirky, family friendly science fiction romp or you have ever bet on a beer run, you probably need to stop what you’re doing and go subscribe now. Must Listen

Disclaimer: Although, as I have previously mentioned, I have followed J.R. Murdock on twitter for quite some time now, I was not asked to provide this review. I was not coerced or promised anything either. In fact, now that I think of it, I’ve never noticed Mr. Murdock ever giving away so much as a beer. Funny, as that… oh never mind.

Next week: Playing for Keeps by Mur Lafferty

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