Podcast Review #12: Spherical Tomi: A Novel of Despair

Sperical Tomi

Title: Spherical Tomi: A Novel of Despair
Author: Jack Mangan
Genre: Science Fiction
Released: 22 October 2005 – 19 February 2006
Located: Podiobooks, iTunes,Author’s site
Formats Available: Podcast, ebook versions available.

The intro for this review will, of necessity, be somewhat shorter than some. Why? Because until about two weeks ago, I had never heard of Jack Mangan or his Tomi stories.

As it turns out, Mr. Mangan and I run in similar circles on Twitter (@jackmangan), but I’ve never chatted with him.

One of the things I personally am enjoying about writing these reviews is the fact that the process is leading me to stories I had been previously unaware of.

Tomi is one of these. (Thanks to JR Murdock for the headsup!)

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: A top-secret AI project.

A deadly power struggle between warlords.

Tomi was once lead combat programmer for the Shogun Ryogi, on the front lines of his conflict against President William the Black of Cerberus. When she failed to prevent William from killing the samurai she loved, she abandoned all sides, all loyalties, all hope. In her fury, Tomi destroyed the Greatship, Hades IV, and almost everyone onboard. Almost everyone. . .

William the Black escaped with his life.

She now hides out in a remote monastery, awaiting the day when she can kill the three she holds responsible for the death of her samurai: William, Ryogi, and herself. . .

With her real body in exile, Tomi’s consciousness inhabits a deteriorating clone body on a satellite around Cerberus. She’s lived and worked incognito in orbit for almost three years now, monitoring the planet’s subspace debris cleanup.

But some histories will not stay buried.

Tomi again finds herself in the crossfire when Ryogi’s forces ambush the Presidential shuttle in her sector.

Ryogi’s samurai have pirated remote control of her satellite’s store of dormant clone bodies; his combat programmers fight her for the station’s computers, while the planet’s extrasphere swarms with deadly smart-mines. Will she be able to protect the President’s shuttle to secure her own vengeance? Will she be able to hold her satellite together? Or will Tomi abandon it all and give in to despair? (Stolen from Podiobooks)

Production: While Mr. Mangan did use a The Story So Far type device (which as previously stated, I don’t enjoy), he did something that I have to admit I cared for even less: he provided a recap synopsis and a preview of the next ep. Im glad this device isn’t one used widely. Mr. Mangan mentions early on that the production is pretty bare bones. It really is. In fact, it is one of the coarsest productions I’ve heard. There are many random artifacts and you can often hear a clear difference between recording sessions. When listening on headphones, occasionally you’ll be startled by a random noise or an effect that is mixed a bit too hot.

Cast: The cast is simply Mr. Mangan and Deborah Mangan. Mr. Mangan does all the narration and male voices, Ms. Mangan does all the female voices. The only issue is that many of the characters sound similar, which isn’t an issue in and of itself. However, occasionally without written or verbal clue, it is hard to tell which character is voicing the dialogue.

Story: The story is fantastic. With a fascination for Japanese culture and a love of good science fiction, Tomi was a nice fit for me. The future Mr. Mangan envisions is as interesting as it is frightening. The story progresses at a nice pace and is relatively short. In fact, at 11 episodes, the story is more of a novella than a novel. Surprisingly, even at a relatively short length, the story is compelling and full of characters that I want to know more of. Luckily, there are several more Tomi stories.

Verdict: Spherical Tomi will probably not be for everyone. It is much closer to hard scifi than most podio science fiction I’ve heard. Add to that, that some will not want to put up with the production. However, if you enjoy hard science fiction and can get beyond pretty audio, you should give Spherical Tomi a listen. I think you’ll be happy with what you find.

Disclaimer: As I previously stated, I’ve never met or talked with Jack Mangan (@jackmangan on twitter) I do not follow him and he doesn’t follow me (at least I don’t think he does). I was not offered anything in return for this review.

Next Week: Ravenwood by Nathan Lowell

Comment Pages

There are 4 Comments to "Podcast Review #12: Spherical Tomi: A Novel of Despair"

  • Scott Roche says:

    Nice, balanced review and one about a podcast I hadn’t heard of, os BONUS!

    • odin1eye says:

      Thanks Scott. I hadn’t heard of Spherical Tomi until recently either, but am glad I did. Looking forward to listening to more Tomi stories.

  • Jack Mangan says:

    Thanks for checking out ST, odin1eye! I’m glad you enjoyed the story, and I can’t disagree with any of your sound critiques. ST *did* come out a *long* time ago, but Sigler, Morris, and Jeffries were already producing quality audio productions back then. My Audacity skills have come a long way since then (I hope).

    We do seem to have a bunch of friends in common, and probably should be connected on twitter!

    • odin1eye says:

      I’m really glad you enjoyed the review. I definitely enjoyed the story. Audacity is a great tool and I am looking forward to hearing more of your audio. Thanks for the follow. I’ll be returning that shortly!

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