I love audiobooks, I really do. They have totally transformed my commute into a – if not enjoyable – much more tolerable way of spending 2 to 2.5 hours of my life every day while boxed up like a sardine in my four cylinder economy bread box. I’ve enjoyed everything from classics like Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, to the latest best selling science fiction stories like Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice series. I discovered the Red Rising series through an accidental choice, and have listened to numerous Terry Pratchett Discworld books as well.
My last book, a collection of Philip K. Dick short stories, was fun to listen to, but it ran out abruptly on my way home from work last night, shortly after I hit the road. Desperate for a quick choice so I wouldn’t have to be searching and, thus, driving unsafely, I stabbed at the application I was using and found Battlefield, Earth, by L. Ron Hubbard. Now, I’m no fan of Hubbard these days and think Dianetics and Scientology are the biggest religious scams of our lifetime, a cult of mindwashing idiocy designed to suck dollars out of people for the benefit of a few (although I guess that’s the story of most organizations, so nothing new there), but… well I did enjoy the book a lot when I was younger, and figured the audiobook version would be good for a few laughs. You’ve got to separate your feelings for people from the works of fiction if you can.
The audiobook downloaded, I started it… and listened to a thirty minute introduction written by Hubbard that was full of self-congratulatory bloviating of the kind that makes my skin crawl. I finally grabbed the phone and kept hitting the 30 second skip ahead button until the story started.
And at first… it sounded great. Good sound quality, quality voice acting, good ambience to the scene. But the longer I listened, the more annoyed I got. The character who is “writing” the story is represented by the narrator, but when they get to parts where they speak to someone it was a different voice actor, which was weird. Then they added musical interludes to pump up the suspense in the way that movies and television does… and that totally ruined it for me. I don’t want a movie or television, I want someone to read me a story. Fine if you want to use multiple actors, I’ve heard that done well, but tossing in music as anything but a marker for the start/end of a cd (downloaded books don’t take those out, so I can live with them) is not acceptable to my enjoyment of a work. The story was becoming as grandiose as L. Ron’s anecdote’s about himself.
I listened to it for the remainder of my ride, maybe twenty or thirty minutes. This morning I deleted it, because fuck that noise. I don’t have the time or energy to spend on a FORTY SEVEN HOUR audiobook that I’m not enjoying thirty minutes in, especially a story I’ve already read by an author whose personal predilections I find reprehensible. Bye, bye, Battlefield, Earth.
Hello A Scanner Darkly. You’re my new best friend, and I hope you treat me better than that schlocky, over produced pile of festering llama guano did.
Battlefield, Earth, by L. Ron Hubbard, the audiobook. I give it three stars out of ten because the voice acting for the Psychlo characters is superb. Otherwise, it’s a waste of your time.