Podcast Review #111: Harmonics – Rise of the Magician

Title: Harmonics – Rise of the Magician
Author: Collin Earl and Chris Snelgrove
Genre: Science Fiction
Released: 7 September 2011 – 25 September 2011
Located: Podiobooks, iTunes
Formats Available: podcast and print
Rating: R for violence and adult language

A while back I reviewed House of Grey by Colon Earl. As much as I liked it, I couldn’t recommend it, because I felt it didn’t end. So, when I saw that Mr. Earl had completed a new story, this time with co-author Chris Snelgrove, I admit I was a bit elated, but also a bit cautious. Which emotion did I retain at the end?

On to the review.

Synopsis: They built what could not be constructed. A weapon lightyears ahead of its time. A weapon so superior it defied the known laws of physics.

Seven years ago, they were on the verge of unleashing its power. Then… they lost it.

Now they are on a desperate hunt to reclaim what they stole.

Following the trail of unexplainable deaths, they frantically search for what may become their ultimate demise.

But what if the project doesn’t want to be reclaimed?

Join their hunt wading through political power-plays, corporate corruption, domestic terrorism, and the greatest enigma of their time- the infamous assassin known only as: The Magician. (Stolen from Podiobooks.com)

Production: With the sole exception of the exception of the opening music being dramatically louder than the rest of the content, the production of Harmonics is very solid. I don’t recall hearing more than one or two repeated lines in the entire story and all other audio was within appropriate levels.

Grade: B+

Cast: Harmonics was read by Chris Snelgrove. He once again does a commendable job of voice inflection and personalization of each voice. If you choose to listen, you’ll have very little trouble differentiating the characters.

Grade: A-

Story: After having listened, I have to say the synopsis is one of the poorest I’ve read in setting up the story for the listener. In reality, the majority of the episodes follows the story of a teenager, Samantha, who finds a small metal box and has her life changed in dramatic fashion.

Grade: B

Verdict: I had several problems with Harmonics. The first, I alluded to above. Samantha is, for all intents and purposes, the driving character in this story. However, her character is enough of an enigma, that although we’re told she’s gone through dramatic changes during the course of the story, we’d likely be unaware of these facts if the authors had t literally pointed them out to us. Samantha also, although I can’t explain exactly how, didn’t end up fitting the character profile I felt the authors had initially developed for her which left me a bit confused in my reactions towards her.

Harmonics is also billed as the worlds first audio manga. To be honest, it didn’t feel any different than any other future sci fi adventure I’ve heard. This isn’t a bad thing, I’m just unsure, even with the description in the first ep, of how an audio manga should have been different.

Finally, there’s the ending. Harmonics is another story built around the idea of seasons. I don’t have a problem with stories doing this, though I prefer a more traditional “book one” title. Regardless, call it a book or a season or whatever you want, I feel like after having listened to 19 episodes there should have been some elements of the story tied up before you end the first season. As I complained with House of Grey the story didn’t set a cliffhanger so much as it just quit in the middle of the story. No plot threads were brought to a logical conclusion. No explanations were given about what’s really going on. On the contrary, I was left wondering why the authors decided to end the first volume at the point where they did. Don’t get me wrong, it definitely does cliffhanger you, it just does so without any carrots that finishing a season usually provides.

So, do I recommend Harmonics? After much consideration, yes. I do. I enjoyed the story up to the part where it quit very much. Mr. Earl and Mr. Snelgrove make a very effective storytelling team. However, I also remind the listener there are precious few answers in this first season and after 19 episodes you might be questioning what is really the true synopsis for the story you’ve just heard.

Disclosure: I do follow Mr. Earl on twitter. I haven’t tweeted with him more than a handful of times and nothing was offered or accepted in return for this review.

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