Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The best of Trek on audio

Further to my definitive listing of Simon & Schuster Audioworks Star Trek productions, which ones are the best?

It's not as easy as just naming one's favourite ST novels. For example, I love the book version of "The Entropy Effect", but Vonda McIntyre had to trim out her entire Sulu subplot to fit the story into just 90 mins, the standard of the day. I miss it.

Having said that, the best of the very early material is easily "Strangers from the Sky". Much is made of James Doohan's voice talents on TAS, but in this audio production, it's George Takei who performs a tour de force. His performance of southerner Melody Sawyer is soooo good. Assuming it was Margaret Wander Bonanno abridging her own manuscript, she manages to squeeze a sweeping TOS "giant" novel into just 90 mins, losing very little of the sense of wonder and nostalgia contained in the original book.

Of the more recent productions, "New Frontier: Stone and Anvil" is the tear-jerker. I'm not that keen on Joe Morton's strange (alien?) delivery for Mackenzie Calhoun, but this NF story - and especially the ending - is fantastic! I was really busy, and had a huge ST novel stockpile so I actually listened to the audio of this one first. Then I swept everything aside and read the actual hardcover!

I think the only other audio version I heard before reading the novel was "Sarek". I had a similar response, racing to read the original.

I really, really wanted to love the "Captain Sulu" adventures but they were disappointingly bland. It wasn't helped that I bought the cassette versions of the first two - then someone told ne the "3-D" FX work much better in the then-new compact disk format, so I bought the first two all over again. "Cacophony" was... well, a cacophony. Ick. (Is JJ Molloy a Peter David pseudonym; Peter's name was originally advertised as the writer. Maybe he asked for his name to be changed?) For the third one, I got CD, but I note it says on the cover that the FX work better with headphones. They do.

Disappointments? I once saw trade ads for TNG's "Metamorphosis" and "Vendetta" - and (complete with cover art!) "TOS: The God-Thing" - audio productions, but they all got cancelled. Sigh. And no "DS9: Unity", the first ST hardcover not to get an audio. (Sadly, since then, several hardcovers have missed out.)

An annoyance for my collecting: "Captain's Glory" wasn't available as a cassette set. So I have eight matching cassette boxes, plus one squat CD box in a row.

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