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Oct. 18th, 2012

romana03: The 4th Doctor thinks books are dangerous. (Default)
We've been listening to a lot of audiobooks this year. We got an audible subscription for Christmas from my Mum and Dad, thinking that the credits would last us for ages and we're getting close to topping up our credits for the second time already. Audible is fantastic! This has prompted some audiobooks/written word comparisons, so I'm going to witter about it a bit here.

I love Shada. I loved the scenes that we got in The Five Doctors, I thought the Doctor and Romana were just lovely punting on the Cam. And then the BBC released the VHS edition with Tom Baker narrating the bits that hadn't been filmed and it was great! Chronotis was perfect and of course, I adore Tom and all his weirdness, so his narration was fab.

And then I spotted the audio book. I had to get it, it's filled in from what we have by the Gareth Roberts and read by Lalla Ward and it amused me no end.

It's really well done, I really do love it. It's funny and acknowledges that if you're listening, you're more than likely a fan and it's really in keeping with the feel of the show at the time. Sometimes, though, the 'writing like Douglas Adams-ness' of it all seems a little too laboured. We head jump a fair amount and by the millionth time you get someone thinking that Chronotis seems like 'such a nice old man' you sort of want to strangle the poor narrator because we know. We get it. And even if you don't know who Chronotis is, you knew something was going on three hours ago and please, just let it go already and, frankly, if you don't guess who he is, you must be having a bit of a muppet day because you've been hammered over the head with it a little too much. The opening of the chapter that introduces the Doctor and Romana feels a bit like this too, where it's pointed out that things might be a surprise, but probably won't until you're practically at the point of bellowing that you know already and can't the writer just GET ON WITH IT.

Maybe it works better in print but when things are being read out to you, things like that stand out far more starkly. I've noticed it also with the Cadfael audio books we've been listening to. I've read them and they've been quite enjoyable but I've must have been ignoring stuff while reading that I can't ignore when I'm listening because Ellis Peter's female characters drive me up the wall. They're not remotely people in the way that the male characters are, even Aline who is a recurring character is basically just slimness and eyes. In the first one, the skeleton of the saint is defined by weight which is equated to beauty. It's a skeleton! And then there's the head-jumping. Everything's from Cadfael's perspective, but the author is so desperate to head-jump, that Cadfael is basically telepathic. But the moment at which we got a completely made up word was when I decided that the effectiveness of professional editing was seriously over-rated. All of this stuff is so much easier to skim when you're reading, though.

Which brings me to Agatha Christie. She's seriously under-rated, I think. Her stories are always so carefully plotted, her red herrings so well done and, even when a narrator's not brilliant, I have never had even one jarring moment like I've experienced with Shada and the Cadfael stories. We've got a lot of her books as audiobooks now, too, not just one or two. Her writing is just consistently great. The best readers (whether they're reading Marple and Poirot or not) are definitely Joan Hickson (the definitive Miss Marple, imo) and Hugh Fraser (Hastings in the Suchet Poirot series). Hugh Fraser actually reads Poirot more enjoyably than David Suchet does, for all that Suchet is absolutely perfect playing him on tv.


romana03: The 4th Doctor thinks books are dangerous. (Default)

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