Podcast #53: The Leviathan Chronicles

Title: The Leviathan Chronicles: Season 1
Author: Christof Laputka
Genre: Science Fiction
Released: 20 April 2008 – 26 May 2010
Located: iTunesPodiobooksAuthor’s Site
Formats Available: Podcast
Rating: R for adult content and violence

I have something unique planned for the month of November, something I’ve never done before. It deals with NanoWriMo and one of the authors that has used NanoWriMo to good effect. However, the series of reviews will only need four parts, and as November has five Mondays, today’s review won’t fit in with the rest. I’ve been meaning to review The Leviathan Chronicles for some time now, but other projects kept jumping in line. So, with no more delay…

On to the review.

Synopsis:   A hidden city called Leviathan lies deep within the dark trenches of the Pacific Ocean. The city is home to a community of immortals that sought to create a utopia over 1,000 years ago. For a millennia, they lived in peace and secrecy, gently influencing world events to aid the advancement of mankind. But a terrible secret has been kept deep within the catacombs of Leviathan that threatens the existence of the immortals, and quite possibly the entire world.

One woman named Macallan Orsel, a young genetic scientist in New York, discovers she is descended from a group of immortals that rebelled against Leviathan and are now waging a civil war around the globe. As the immortal war spills into the realm of mortal man, Macallan realizes that she holds the key to stopping the battle and bringing peace to Leviathan. But a clandestine government agency called The Blackdoor Group is trying to exterminate the immortal population and has identified Macallan as their critical target.

The Leviathan Chronicles is a revolutionary science fiction audio drama podcast featuring the voices of over 60 actors, professional sound effects and an original music soundtrack. For more information and additional audio content, visit our website at www.leviathanchronicles.com. (Stolen from the Podiobooks.com.)

Production: Simply stated, The Leviathan Chronicles has the most lavish production of any podcast I’ve ever heard. This is the summer blockbuster of podcasts with all that big budget visual special effects effort being dumped on your ears. Seriously, if you have never heard an episode of this show, you might be unaware of what a podcast can sound like. The closest thing to this level of professionalism I’ve heard elsewhere is J. Daniel Sawyer’s Down from Ten, and The Leviathan Chronicles even surpasses DF10 with this aural blitzkrieg. This is no one man job. Much effort, and I expect a good some of money, was expended in making this production. One area of the production that I didn’t enjoy was the amount of “meta” discussion that occurs. It seems like there was usually about 10 minutes at the end of most eps that was conversation concerning the delay in episodes or other topics of interest to the author. Besides this, there are “soapbox episodes” regularly delivered in the feed which is more of the same. However, the production of the Leviathan Chronicles remains the highest level of professional production I have ever heard.

A+

Cast: As the synopsis states, over 60 actors contribute to season one of The Leviathan Chronicles. I remember from one early episode listening to the author discuss having auditions for the many parts he wanted casted. I know many podcasts are happy to get volunteers. The Leviathan Chronicles sounds like what it is: a professionally produced and acted vocal drama.

A+

Story: In a nut shell the Leviathan Chronicles is a questing story. Right as the story began to interest me a bit, it was derailed by flashback episodes spanning millennia. Occasionally, flashbacks are necessary, I get that. However, I am still not a fan of flashbacks. I never have been. I feel like it shows a lack of preplanning on the part of the author. I know this is unfair because quite often they are used to give the backstory once the reader/listener/watcher is hooked. In this case though, I really don’t think it worked. Besides the flashbacks, and more importantly, the story had no sense of cohesiveness. As is the case with some of those summer blockbusters, the pace becomes so harried that the audience is carried along not really being able to internalize, or care, what is happening. The last several episodes of the season began to get a bit more interesting, but perhaps in the realm of too little too late.

D

Verdict: I have many issues with The Leviathan Chronicles. The entire premise of the story is advanced science. However, whenever they begin talking about advanced science they completely show they have no understanding of the topic. Lead paint on holsters keeping guns invisible from x-ray machines? Try again. I also have to admit I cringed every time there was a scripted fight sequence. My advice here: hire a trained fight master. Or at least the black belt chimpanzee. Something. Anything. Please. Yes, my own background as a martial artist might be making me more picky than most, but see, there is the rub. As a story teller you never know what your audience’s background is. I know The Leviathan Chronicles has many fans. I am not one. Bury this story in the depths of an underground city hidden away from humanity and I believe you would be doing us a favor.

Disclosure: I do not follow The Leviathan Chronicles on Twitter. Earlier this year I do believe I allowed them to follow me (yes, allowed. Protected account and all). I have never corresponded with anyone connected to this production. I was not offered, nor did I accept anything in return for this review.

Comment Pages

There are 16 Comments to "Podcast #53: The Leviathan Chronicles"

  • I agree with Odin on this one. There is a lot to enjoy about The Leviathan Chronicles and I hope some fans of the production post comments. However, I eventually stopped listening.

    I’m not sure it was the actual story as much as I was having problems following the story. There are parts that need to be tightened up and I’m not sure the massive flashback multi-episode section could have been handled better (not sure if this is in season 1 or not).

    When it all comes down to it, I was having problems keeping up with the story. I keep up with a LOT of different story lines and it could be that not following the story is more my fault than the writer’s.

    I think there are a lot of people who will enjoy The Leviathan Chronicles more than I do and I would encourage people to give it a try at least. If nothing else, the style is very different and professional, and it’s worth giving it a couple/three episodes just for those merits.

    • odin1eye says:

      Thanks Richard. Yes, your points are well laid out. The story was very difficult to follow. All of the episodes to date are part of season 1. Season 1 was 25 episodes and spanned a 2 year period. I didn’t take that into account in the review, although I was tempted.

      Thanks again for the comment!

  • Bryan says:

    I for one liked the story in addition to the high production values. I liked the flashbacks, too. But I prefer a complex story with a lot of different characters and no clear distinction between good and evil. I’ll take Steven Erikson over Dan Brown any day. But to each their own.

    • odin1eye says:

      Thanks Bryan for the input! I really do appreciate it. I’ll also take Erickson over Brown any day. Heck, I’d take Judy Blume over Dan Brown. As far as a distinction between good and evil, I believe that is always from the eyes of the beholder and had no problem with that either. My problems were with the cohesiveness of the story. Or rather the lack thereof and the half hearted attempt at character development. By the time I’ve invested two years of my life into characters, I would like to think I had an insight into their motivations. With Leviathan, I never got beyond two dimensions. As you say, however, each to their own and I’m glad you cared enough to create a comment. Thanks again.

  • Michael says:

    I haven’t listened to the podcast, nor am I likely too. I don’t really like acted vocal drama. What get’s me is the simple joy of a single narrator, preferably the author (Although not necessarily as mine isn’t read by me).

    That being said I might downlaod an listen to a couple of episodes to hear those porduction values… 🙂

  • Scott Roche says:

    In the spirit of complete honesty when I saw that you gave this story a D, I had to restrain myself from shouting “YES!” in my office. The people I’m working with think I’m weird enough as it is.

    Yes this is a well produced podcast, but the story is, as I like to say, “a hot mess”. Proof positive (for me at least) that excellent production values buy you nothing whereas Admiral Lowell’s stories are well done with minimal PVs.. Can you imagine one of his stories done with this level of effects, etc.? While it wouldn’t make the Solar Clipper stories better, it would be a new level of awesome if you grok me.

    So, yeah. I really can’t recommend this one either. Writers, focus on story/character.

  • I also listened to the whole shebang and wondered why? Yes, it is well done, but I did not care what happened to any of the characters. Except the boat captain when he walked into that pub and got to know the owner at the end. I wish it had all taken place there! Lol But I kept seeing comicbook like scenes in my mind when I knew he wanted full screen 3d pictures. I don’t read Dan Brown either. And I Love Decoder Ring Theater and several others, but cannot get to my iTunes to see the names because my computer died last night and I am on iPad. But @WNDRWolf can tell you the names of some Very good ones. I get most of my recommendations, not only podiobooks, of ongoing podcasts from him.

  • I loved the The Leviathan Chronicles, but I have to admit you bring up a lot of good points Odin. I think I was caught up so much in the shiny production quality that those weaknesses you mentioned didn’t bother me as much. I think there’s a lesson in that for me. If you listen to the first short story I ever pocasted it is production heavy like The Leviathan Chronicles, which comes from my background as a media guy. Like P.G. Holyfield I take pleasure in adding in all that stuff. However, my favorite podiobook is still Quarter Share by Nathan Lowell, which is a strait read – and I’ve listened to dozens and dozens of traditional audiobooks. I would much rather have a great story than over the top production; so I’m really glad you pointed out what wasn’t working for you.

    I do think the character development and the story could be improved. I was pretty jarred with the flash backs as well because it was like I was just getting into the story, and then I had to invest in a whole new story. I did really enjoy the flashbacks and think they did a great job, but I was jarred.

    I think the reason I really enjoyed Leviathan was that the rich audio work did a great job, for me at least, in making me feel like I was actually there in the story. All of the extra noises they added were a real treat for my ears. That said, I did stop listening to it and come back to it several times to finish it, unlike other podiobooks which I listen to straight through whenever I have a chance.

    To me, it’s like Pixar movies. They haven’t made a bad one yet, in my humble opinion, and there’s a reason. It’s not because they’re on the leading edge of 3D graphics, it’s because they spend a lot of their time (almost two years I saw on some bonus feature) getting the story right. They really work the story until it’s great, which is why their movies are great.

    Thanks for the great review, and it was fun to read all the comments. I think the negative points you made about this one are all valid. It’s funny I say I loved it, but I don’t think it’s one I’ll go back and listen to over and over again like I do my favorites. Ok, I’ve written enough, I’m out!

    • odin1eye says:

      LOL.. well thanks for standing up against the crowd so to speak.. i do appreciate people that are willing to speak their minds. And yes, I do know what you mean. Thanks for commenting!

  • Jeffrey Hite says:

    I listened to the first few episodes of this one and had to unsubscribe from it. As high as the production value is, the story sinks the ship. For me this violated rule #1 of story telling, it broke the suspension of disbelief. I read a lot of stories, and some of them i will form time to time break this promise, I can live with that as long as it is not too bad. The problem with Leviathan, was that it not only broke the suspension of disbelief, it then picked it up, tossed on the floor again, jumped on it, swept up the pieces put them in a box, mailed the box to themselves and then when the box arrived the smashed it with a hammer. I admit I stole that last part from a kids movie, but even the kids movie that I stole that from didn’t break the suspension of disbelief as much as this story did. I hate to be negative, and normally even if I don’t like a story I will try to find some kernel that I liked. So in that spirit I will say that the sound scape that is created is beautiful.

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