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 Michael Crichton Audiobooks

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PostSubject: Michael Crichton Audiobooks   Sat Jan 07, 2017 9:16 pm

Anyone into audiobooks? These days I actually very much prefer "reading" books via this way, especially when outdoors walking. I get to do two things at once! And what I especially like is when I happen to find a good narrator, some of whom actually make the experience twice as fun and almost like listening to a great movie! Especially if they make an attempt to give personal voices for the characters. Unfortunately there are not many narrators out there that qualify for that, you know majority is just kind of "meh" and seemingly just doing it for the money, but there are diamonds in the rough..

So Crichton's catalogue in audiobooks, have you listened to any of them? And if so, which version/narrator?

I've gone through the following novels, all unabridged of course as abridged audiobooks are poison:

Airframe (read by Frances Cassidy)
Congo (read by Bob Askey)
Eaters of the Dead (read by Victor Garber + "Commentary" & Introduction by Michael Crichton)
Jurassic Park (2 different versions: read by William Roberts & Scott Brick)
Micro (read by John Bedford Lloyd)
Pirate Latitudes (read by John Bedford Lloyd)
Prey (read by George Wilson + Introduction by Michael Crichton)
Sphere (read by Bob Askey)
Terminal Man (read by George Wilson)
The Lost World (read by George Guidall)
Timeline (read by John Bedford Lloyd)

Furthermore I am currently listening through State of Fear (read by George Wilson), and am planning to do these sometime later this year: Next, the Andromeda Strain, the Great Train Robbery, and Travels. The rest I try to get hold on later.

Many of these books are of course available in different narration by different company, and/or in abridged form.

Rather than really say anything about the novels itself (other than that Crichton is my favorite author and of the titles Timeline and JP are at my top), I just want to express few words about the audiobooks itself. Or rather I guess, the way of which they are conducted by narration since that is the obvious talking point here isn't it? Of course if you want reply, you may talk in detail about the books themselves if you so wish, but I'm sticking to the audiobooks here. And particularly the specific versions I listed above.

Let's start with 'Jurassic Park' as that's what this forum is all about, right? So I've gone through two versions, both again unabridged of course. First is narrated by William Roberts and second by Scott Brick. The Roberts version is a solid one throughout. He performs couple of variations in character voices here and there (mainly Hammond, Lex, Tim and couple of others) and his reading voice is very stable and clear. He handles action scenes with emotion, the Nedry & Arnold death scenes in particular are very fast paced and tense in his voice. I like it for what it is, though I can understand if someone finds especially the impersonation of Lex bit annoying here! He really makes her sound like an annoyed little girl, almost to the point you get annoyed!

And I must say that his Jurassic Park performance is infinitely better than Scott Bricks! Which is strange as I've liked Brick in some other stuff, mainly recordings from the 90's and early 2000's. I wonder if something has happened to him in the last few years since this 2015 recording does really, really not suit him. I wouldn't say he sounds bored, but his tone is really strange. Too serious. Weirdly conducted sentences. Brick's never really attempted to do voices for his characters which I've been okay with as it's otherwise been rather professional and pleasant, but here it just doesn't seem to work. When Malcolm goes into his long monologues I'm just rolling my eyes listening to Brick's uneven voice, uneven sentences. At least Roberts sounded enthusiastic, even if not perfect. I'm afraid this is bit of a letdown, thank god it's not the only version.

'The Lost World' by George Guidall is once again "pretty good". In fact, remarkably similar to Robert's Jurassic Park in most aspects. It's again quite pleasant to the ears in normal reading tone and he attempts few different dialogue voices, including spanish impersonations for the side characters and child voices for Kelly & Arby. However he makes certain characters such as Malcolm sound downright irritating. I mean, Malcolm's already pretty annoyed at everything and especially Levine in this novel, but with Guidall's voice it almost makes it seem like he's ready to shoot his brains out on every page? I don't know it's both interesting and weird at the same time.

So now to the other novels and readers. Let's start with the worst of the audiobook representations, 'Congo' narrated by Bob Askey. This is a god damn horrible production. First off, for some reason they decide to make the narrator read everything there is in the book. And when I mean everything, I mean everything. Summary, table of contents, pages, footnotes, all the little crap in addition to the actual text. It's all very unnecessary, and the footnotes especially in the middle of paragraphs only bring confusion. There's a reason why you axe these out from your audiobooks, even if they are unabridged. But I guess this is how some of these audiobooks were done in the 80's or whenever this was released. But the second reason for the unpleasantness of this audiobook is the fact that Bob Askey is a god damn boring reader, at least in this novel. He has a very monotone voice and not very much articulation to anything. He doesn't do any specific character voices, except for the guerilla Amy he performs a mild 'dummy' variant (which to be honest is pretty decent). Listening to this makes me want to go to sleep. Very low audio quality of the version only adds in frustration.

Askey also performs 'Sphere', which is not quite as awful as Congo. First off, he doesn't read literally everything there is, which is an immediate improvement. However, he still reads aloud a very irritating portion of the book: the numbers. If you've ever read through Sphere, you know what I'm talking about. There are couple of sections in the book where there are pages after pages of mere numbers. And Askey reads them. All. Every single number. And yes, he starts getting really, really, really really annoyed/bored by the end of it where you can almost hear him starting to snooze off. What the **** were they thinking? CUT IT OFF. But you know other than that I didn't have really any other problems with the audiobook. Askey is still rather monotone throughout but he seems to put a little more effort into in this time. Maybe he had has hid morning coffee. Most of the character lines are done in more emotion and the "Amy sound" from Congo is back again on different character. All in all, it's a better listening experience than Congo, although still flawed.

"Airframe" by Francis Cassidy is pretty straightforward deal, pleasant female voice that is gentle to your ear and very non offensive. She only does few character voices and most of them are good, especially that of the main character. Few of the male voices end up sounding unintentionally hilarious but you can't really fault her for trying. All in all, solid audiobook for solid novel, not more much to say.

"Eaters of the Dead" with Victor Garber is a very enjoyable experience. He does excellent middle eastern accent for the main character as well as authentic sounding nordic expressions with the vikings and other northerners. On top of that you have Michael Crichton himself providing introduction as well as extra information here and there as sort of "commentary". Unlike with Congo, the commentary bits really don't harm the overall experience (partly because it's not Askey boredly reading them I guess) but it all flows pretty naturally. It's always nice of audiobooks to take the extra step and get the actual author to work in the process.

George Wilson provides voice for "Terminal Man" and "Prey" (as well as "State of Fear" I'm currently going through), with Prey also containing another introduction bit by Michael Crichton. Both of these novels are done pretty much the same way, using similar voice palettes from Wilson. Very professional, very slick, very calm. Calm, that's pretty much the way I would describe it. He's like your 60 year old uncle reading a newspaper for you, very steadily, very chill. Again, only few different voice impersonations, but it's all good. His female impersonation is very convincing as is he "cranky grandpa" voice. Out of all the names on this list, I would say he is my second favorite. And that's bit surprising because the first time I heard him, I didn't really think much of it. But his voice definitely grows on you.

Finally, John Bedford Lloyd is my favorite reader of all time, all media included. I've searched and listened through many many fictional titles by other authors I have zero interest in just because I've wanted to hear his god damn amazing voice work. This way I've also found my way into Dean Koontz and his great Frankenstein series, so I very much thank him for "introduction". So why is he so good? Well unlike most readers, who either don't do character impersonations at all (or even if they do it's only couple of main characters), JBL gives nearly every character possible unique standout voice. He can not only perform all sorts of authentic sounding accents (British, French, Spanish etc) but also spot-on comedic, horror and female impressions. The female voices almost sound like they actually were coming from lady across you, I honestly mean that! And of course his 'normal' reading voice is just perfect, it enhances the source material immensely. As for these three Crichton books he's done, "Timeline" & "Pirate Latitudes" & "Micro", he's of course excellent in all of them but especially in Timeline and Pirate Latitudes. The medieval characters in Timeline come to life in a way I never envisioned when reading the paperback, and in Pirate Latitudes I'm pretty sure he has like 30 different voices??? How does he do that and remember all of them? Unbelievable. Now, for Micro he for some reason doesn't really seem to bother doing many voices, just couple of them, instead just using his normal narration for the most of time. Which you know is 'fine' and certainly still far more enjoyable to me than with any reader, but still, I would have still wanted for more. Guess I'm little spoiled with most of his other fictional work. But since I don't really care for Micro that much anyway I suppose it doesn't matter that much as the other two much better books are so very multi dimensional.

So those were of course just my opinions and as with all things you don't have to agree with any of them. Would be nice to hear some other opinions as well too Smile
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