Podcast Review #62: Storm Over Warlock

Title: Storm Over Warlock Author:
André Norton Genre: Science Fiction Released: 28 December 2010
Located: iTunes, Podiobooks
Formats Available: dead tree, ebook, podcast, audiobook and probably others
Rating: G for mild old time golden era sic fi violence and adventure
I really did stumble upon the community of original podfiction quite by accident. I had listened to Tee Morris’s Billibub Badding’s and the Case of the Singing Sword and Scott Sigler’s Ancestor but most of the stories I had come across had been old time radio series available in podcast form. I loved Jimmy Stewart in The Six Shooter (seriously, a Jimmy Stewart western series? How could you NOT love it?), The Shadow serials, Fort Laramie, The Lone Ranger, some Gunsmoke (western serials were much more popular in radio era days it seems), The Green Hornet, and probably my favorite Lux Radio Theatre. Yes, they are all available for free as podcasts. Unfortunately, I went through most of the series I was interested in fairly quickly and was then left with gaping holes. I had found the initial stories on iTunes and at the time had had a hard time finding anything else there that I was truly interested in. It is different browsing than actually looking for something you know exists. So, I hit the web. And I discovered Librivox.org. If you’re unfamiliar with Librivox, it is an interesting exercise. In a nutshell, it is a crowdsourced podcast of material found at the Gutenberg Project. You’ll find projects that are incomplete, some that are started by one person and finished by another, some that are done very professionally and some that are very poor. This weeks review reminded me of those first stories because it too is a reading of a popular story from golden era of science fiction. Storm Over Warlock was written by Andre Norton. Ms. Norton is one of the “bigs” from early science fiction and I was sad when she passed away in 2oo5.
So, on to the review.
Synopsis: The Throg task force struck the Terran survey camp a few minutes after dawn, without warning, and with a deadly precision which argued that the aliens had fully reconnoitered and prepared that attack. Eye-searing lances of energy lashed back and forth across the base with methodical accuracy. And a single cowering witness, flattened on a ledge in the heights above, knew that when the last of those yellow-red bolts fell, nothing human would be left alive down there. (Stolen from Podiobooks.com) And so Shann Lantee, most menial of the Terrans attached to the camp on the planet Warlock, was left alone and weaponless in the strange, hostile world, the human prey of the aliens from space and the aliens on the ground alike.
Production: Most of the story is recorded very professionally. It is a straight read by a gentleman named Mark Nelson. I don’t know if he is also the producer or not, but there are some issues with the production. Each ep and chapter begins and ends with music. On at least one ep the music appeared randomly in the middle of a chapter. Also, the production uses a stereo effect with a balance preference for the two main characters. The lead character’s voice is much quieter than the rest of the production.
Grade: B-
Cast: As mentioned above, this is a straight read by Mark Nelson. He has a pleasant voice and does a nice job with the story.
Grade: A-
Story: Andre Norton was one of my favorite Science Fiction authors as a teen. She tends to follow the same formula in many of her novels. Place a youth in an unfamiliar land and have them find out they have more skill and worth than they initially believe. Although I had previously not read Storm over Warlock, this formula holds true here. This is a very straight forward story by todays standards with minimal world building and even a bit of two dimensional characterization. However, it is definitely a classic in the era of Golden Age science fiction and fits that role very well.
Grade: B
Verdict: If you like Golden Age scifi, you should not hesitate to subscribe to Storm Over Warlock. Mr. Nelson does a nice job with the reading, and it is André Norton doing what she did best.
Disclosure: The only way I even heard of this podcast was through following Podiobooks. I was a bit surprised to see it tweeted, but immediately subscribed and enjoyed listening as I went about my many chores over the holiday. I do not know Mr. Nelson, do not follow him, never had the chance to meet Ms. Norton. I have no connection with anyone related to this production.

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