I’m honored to be a guest judge this year for the The Armchair Audies, the audiobook blogosphere’s annual “challenge” in conversation with the Audio Publishers Association Audies which will be awarded at the sold-out APA Audies Gala on May 28. This year I signed up for the Science Fiction category, if for no other reason than that I’d already listened to 3 of the 5 nominees, a 4th was very, very high on my wishlist, and the 5th came highly-recommended as well. (It didn’t hurt that The Guilded Earlobe was also involved.) In the end, all 5 were mentioned in some way in my picks for the year’s best of 2015, though while none were in my own personal top 5, all were absolutely well deserving of their Audie nominations and outstanding, both from a science fiction and audiobook standpoint.
So. How to judge 5 audiobooks, which while all under the purvey of “science fiction” are nonetheless in many ways very much apples and oranges? (And pears and likely a vegetable or two.) We’ve got a book that’s, essentially, a series of first person log entries; a multi-POV near future episodic epic narrated by a full cast; a tightly-plotted story of time travel (of a sort); a gender-bending near-future federal investigation; and an already-lauded British sf novel getting a fantastic new audiobook edition. I decided to apply a numeric ranking to each audiobook, weighted toward my personal preferences, and let the chips fall where they may. Personally, that means more a few more points for a well-written story than it does for pitch-perfect narration, and more consideration for a moving performance than for a flawless production.
But enough talk! In order of appearance on the nomination list, on to the reviews and ratings!
The Beam: Season 1 by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant, narrated by Johnny Heller, Tara Sands, Ralph Lister, Ray Chase, R. C. Bray, Jeffrey Kafer, Chris Patton, Eric Martin, Brian Holsopple, Rachel Fulginiti, Stephen Bowlby, and Emily Woo Zeller for Podium Publishing is an outstanding multi-narrator production combining elements of dystopian and post-apocalyptic sf, mystery, and thriller ideas. Continue reading