Title: Dead Mech
Author: Jake Bible
Genre: Science Fiction/Horror
Released: 26 September 2009 – 27 June 2010
Located: iTunes, Podiobooks, Author’s Site
Formats Available: Podcast, Dead Tree version coming soon
Rating: R for intense violence and gore, strong sexual content and pervasive profanity
A while back you might remember I made a concerted effort to fill the void created in these reviews by the lack of horror. I believe I mentioned at the time that it is probably my least favorite of the speculative fiction categories, and it remains so. As I was looking for a good story or two to review I was amazed to find how popular zombie fiction had become. (I know, sometimes I’m a bit slow on the uptake.) I don’t remember who recommended Jake Bible’s Dead Mech to me, or even if it was one I stumbled upon on my own, but I just finished listening to the last ep and had been holding this review until that episode dropped. Thank goodness for author’s that release on schedule (even a Sunday release schedule… Sunday? Really?).
So, on to the review.
Synopsis: After the zombie apocalypse decimates the world, human civilization tries to put itself back together again. Their secret weapon: the Mechs. But what happens when a mech pilot dies in his mech and becomes a zombie? Hell on earth is unleashed… (Minor quibble.. authors, you put A LOT of work into your stories and then the podcasting of them. Consider providing a synopsis that, even if it is brief, give me a very good idea about what your story is about. I’m more likely to listen.) (Stolen from podiobooks.com)
Production: Mr. Bible bills his story as the world’s first “drabble” novel. Don’t know what that is? Don’t feel bad, neither did I. In a nutshell, a drabble is a 100 word story. Exactly 100 words. So, Mr. Bible has written a novel that is broken into 100 word bites. Not chapters necessarily, but scenes, characters point of view, etc. What does this have to do with production? Simply that at the end of each drabble, the story pauses. No music, no sound effect, just nothing. for an obscene amount of time. Like at least a minute. Well, not really probably more like five seconds. Still, it seemed much longer.
Mr. Bible did one other thing in his production that I really have to admit I would not recommend. Author “metadata” (all those things that author’s share with us that might or might not have anything to do with the story) is really fun and I usually subscribe to the iTunes or author’s site versions so as to be able to listen in on it. However, if you are going to place it at the beginning of the ep, I believe it should be kept relatively concise and keep on tract. Several of Mr. Bible’s intro’s approach the 10 minute mark. Yes, I know that I could have subscribed to the Podiobooks version and then I would not have this complaint. And of course, that is a very valid argument. And truthfully, now that this story is complete, I would suggest you do. (Well, it should be complete at Podiobooks before you get that far anyway.)
Cast: Mr. Bible does a straight read on his Dead Mech but does provide a good amount of inflection. He really doesn’t do much in the way of voice characterization, but it really doesn’t need it and the story stands up quite well.
Story: Dead Mech is a horror story. It really is. But it is a horror story in the vein of Aliens where it is very dependent on the science fiction element. Mr. Bible does a very good job on blending the two. Mr. Bible also provides a disclaimer at the beginning of each episode letting the listener know this story is really intended for adult audiences. Believe him. I have never heard this much profanity in a podcast before. (It came to me as I was mowing the yard while listening to an ep that I can imagine Mr. Bible counting the words of the latest paragraph and finding himself at 98, so why not throw two 2 more f-bombs in to [that is meant as a light hearted musing only folks] wrap it up nice and tidy. If that in itself is a stopping point for you, don’t bother. There are also detailed scenes of gore and sexual violence, violence and cannibalism. Seriously. And we’re not talking zombies munching of humans either. However, this is a story that I’ve never heard before in any variation. I love the idea of his Mechs and the specialized duty they are capable of.
Verdict: I didn’t love Dead Mech, but I sure didn’t hate it either. I liked it. And it is telling that it is one of the podcasts that I wait for every week to listen to. For horror (and me) that is really saying a lot. I would recommend it if you are a horror fan and you don’t mind frequent and considerable profanities. It isn’t Shakespeare or Dostoyevsky, but what is? It is a good story, read moderately well that will keep you entertained. If this was a movie, I’d call it a summer popcorn flick, and there is definitely a need for that.
Disclosure: I don’t follow Mr. Bible on Twitter but will probably be correcting that sooner or later. To my knowledge, he doesn’t follow me either and I don’t remember every exchanging Tweets with him.