Podcast Review #64: FETIDUS: The Damned Heir

Title: FETIDUS: The Damned Heir
Author: James Durham
Genre: Zombie/horror/supernatural/crime drama
Released: 9 July 2010 – 11 January 2011
Located: Author’s Site, iTunes
Formats Available: podcast only at this time
Rating: R for sex, violence, zombie cannibalism

It takes me a while to get around to listening to podcasts sometimes. I don’t know about all of you, but occasionally I’ll hear of a podcast that I think will be interesting and then for one reason or another never get around to subscribing, or at the very least trying out an ep. For me, this was FETIDUS. Sometime around the end of October, I finally subscribed and started ravenously devouring the episodes. This wasn’t an issue because I believe at the time there were 16 episodes or there around. It became an issue in November. More on that later.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: FETIDUS: The Damned Heir by James Durham is the first sci-fi/horror novel and original music score set in the grim and fetid alleyways of a post-apocalyptic Washington, DC, circa 2034. In this first novel, Art Blanchard, a jaded Washington lobbyist who works for The Foundation for the Ethical Treatment of the Innocently Damned, Undead and Supernatural (FETIDUS), takes up the blackmail case of a mysterious woman, which leads him on a twisted adventure filled with noir-humor, suspense and horror.

Production: The production of FETIDUS is really top notch. I make no claims to be a professional sound editor. When I make comments about production quality, I am not pretending to know all the ins and outs of that production. However, I have listened to enough to know what sounds good and what really needs some work. FETIDUS sounds good. VERY good. The music, audio and effects are all put together in a manner that enhances the story. This is a full blown audiodrama and all of these elements work together very well. Mr. Durham wrote the music for the podcast as well and each piece fits the mood of the narration very well indeed. Only one portion of the production bothered (read “annoyed”) me, and that was the opening sequences with the doubling (echoing) effect. Later eps were a bit better, and the effect sounded neat, but at times made it difficult to understand.

Grade: A+

Cast: I’ve never heard of most of the cast. They are not the usual suspects. The one exception to the rule is Matthew Wayne Selznick. However, it is one of the most professional recordings I’ve heard. Rather than list the rather full cast, I’ve decided to include a link to the cast page here. I don’t know if these were paid performers, as most of them list voice artist on their resumes, or whether they performed free of charge, but if you have a full cast podcast pending, you might want to check with these folks schedules.

Grade: A+

Story: A detective type story in a world inhabited with zombies, vampires and other supernatural beings and where government has gone crazy enough to legislate their treatment? Heck, I was hooked from the description. The story is decently written and each episode moves in a straight line towards the ultimate conclusion. And I will say, this story went to places I never anticipated. There are plenty of areas in this story that are inappropriate for younger audiences. This is also a case where the story is an exception to my rule. I didn’t really like any of the characters to a large extent. However, I would say that as an ensemble the characters all fit together well and worked for the world in which they live. Also, while not intending to “spoil” anything for anyone, this story really doesn’t end so much as set itself up for future development. Still, if you enjoy the story, this isn’t a bad thing.

Grade: B

Verdict: I liked FETIDUS. If you haven’t listened to it, I will recommend to the soft horror crowd. However, I think you get the better end of the deal as the release schedule here near the end was very long between eps. When I went to the site to compile the information for this review, I noticed that the author did leave updates there, but there were none placed in the stream, so for those of us that subscribed through iTunes and didn’t go to the site, we were left in limbo for quite a while. This is not your typical zombie, vampire, supernatural story, but it is done well and it’s uniqueness makes it quite enjoyable.

Disclosure: I don’t follow the author or any of the cast, and with the exception of Mr. Selznick (when I reviewed his very good story Brave Men Run), have never communicated with any of them.

Comment Pages

There are 5 Comments to "Podcast Review #64: FETIDUS: The Damned Heir"

  • Thomas says:

    In the first outing, I believe Mr. Durham had apologized for the long delay and stated he would reissue the episodes before posting new eps. I started listening early on and did a bitstrip on it. this is one of the best. It is not your typical zombie apocalypse story. Sam Spade. Zombies. Future. Awesome. Put it in you MP3 player.

  • Of course, this podiobook is complete, or else Odin1Eye would not be reviewing it. So in one sense the release schedule problem is a non-issue now for this podcast novel.

    However; as someone who typically listens to podcast novels as they are released, I do appreciate it when authors release their episodes on a regular or at least timely basis. So to those authors “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” (you know who you are). I know that there are some wonderful people who have had to put a halt to their episode releases due to unforeseen difficult circumstances, my comments are not meant to make you feel any worse than you already do about it (I am waiting very patiently and politely; and still sending positive thoughts your way).

    I think that the mention of the release schedule in this review does serve two purposes. 1) A lot of podcast novelists (and future podcast novelists) read this blog. This is a reminder to put the issue of release schedule as something that you guys need to address up front as much as possible.

    2) For listeners like me, we have to know that we do take a chance when listening to works in progress. Keeping in mind an author’s track record or lack thereof can be helpful when making the choice to go with a work in progress or wait until it is complete.

    Knowing Odin, I’m sure he had this kind of thing in mind when updating his review.

    • odin1eye says:

      My pique might be unwarranted but is do simply to the fact of feeling a bit misled. FETIDUS is not a bad story. I still recommend it for people who like mild horror and detective stories. However, as I mentioned in the review, the story itself feels almost more like a first installment than a stand alone book. In some ways the ending came to quickly and without enough closure for me. Again, that is just my own thoughts. With that being said, if number two were to come along and I found it, I would (and do) look at release schedules for the first as an indicator as how this one “might” (there are always mitigating factors, I understand that) be released. I don’t mean to sound high and mighty (and it really doesn’t matter on this story, because it is concluded) but when dates are not indicative of the actual release it provides an untrustworthy accounting.

      Thanks again Richard for helping me clarify the issue and for all those that loved this book, I quite understand why you might, and am in no way trying to dissuade you. Lots of incredible effort went into this story, and it shows.

  • Bryan says:

    James talks about the release schedule in episode 14 of the Fullcast Podcast, in case you want to hear it from the horse’s mouth. http://www.fullcastpodcast.com/?p=211

    But to put it bluntly, it is my understanding that James stopped for an entire year due to a series of tragic events in his immediate family, including a bad car accident, and eventually rebooted the whole thing to maintain quality and have a more regular release schedule once he was back on his feet. That is also the likely reason the dates seem confusing to you. The parsec winning episodes were redone with the reboot, hence the new dates.

    I understand the desire to not invest time in a story that is not finished, and I too will often wait until a story is done to subscribe, but as a producer I can say that James has been quite prolific since he came back on the scene. I’ve been very impressed. I don’t think people realize the time and effort that goes into a fullcast production, and many take it for granted.

    • odin1eye says:

      Fair enough. And I’m never the guy that won’t admit when he’s made a mistake. If the eps were rerecorded as part of the reintroduction than the dates are legit. I’ll be removing the addendum.

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