Aug 23, 2018

[Books] Torchwood Tales Audible Review

My exploration of fiction audiobooks remains mainly limited to experienced specifically crafted as audio experiences and not so much fiction read aloud. It's not that I'm against titles like those but I still prefer to read such stories for one reason or another.

But then you have titles like Torchwood Tales, which collects short stories written as audio experiences with some sound effects yet not quite full-on radio plays.

This collection has a lot of stories and ends up being a very long listening experience that I had to spread out across many days. It was definitely a mixed bag in terms of how the stories came across but there are some definite gems here.

Synopsis: Torchwood Tales is an anthology of short stories set in the Torchwood television universe but prepared as audiobooks specifically. They feature the voices of different members of the cast reading individual stories.

Hidden was written by Steven Savile and read by Naoko Mori and is about a series of mysterious deaths that may be somehow connected to Jack Harkness. Everyone Says Hello was written by Dan Abnett and ready by Burn Gorman and is about a strange circumstance that has everyone in Cardiff going out of their way to greet everyone else. In the Shadows was written by Joseph Lidster and read by Eve Myles and centers around the death of a 24-year-old cab driver who appears he's 70. The Sin Eaters was written by Brian Minchin and read by Gareth David-Lloyd and starts with a corpse on the beach whose face was covered by a thousand tiny cuts. Department X was written by James Goss and read by Kai Owen and is about the odd circumstance of customers seeming to disappear in the old G.R. Owen store.

Ghost Train was written by James Goss and read by Kai Owen and oddly starts with Rhys trying to figure out why fridges have been disappearing. Army of One was written by Ian Edginton and read by Kai Owen and involves bodies that appear to be little more than practically mummified husks. Fallout was written by David Llewellyn and read by Tom Price and has Sgt Andy Davidson reaching out to Gwen Cooper to help in what maybe more than a double shooting. Red Skies was written by Joseph Lidster and read by John Teller and has Jack Harkness going on an unusual holiday. And finally Mr. Invincible  was written by Mark Morris and read by Tom Price and focuses on Ross Chapman thinking he can become a superhero.

What I Liked: I was not prepared for how much I'd enjoy Kai Owen as a storyteller but he is quite the fun reader and I ended up enjoying his stories the most. He brings a certain energy and exuberance to his performances such that the stories come alive more. Or maybe his distinct manner of speech is somehow quite gripping and intriguing to some degree.

The sheer diversity of stories here was pretty great with the Torchwood team exploring all sorts of different challenges and ideas. When you put all of the stories together it almost feels like this is an additional season of the show and a chance to hear all these familiar voices telling us about their adventures.

What Could Have Been Better: That said, not everyone is the greatest of readers and some stories become harder to keep up with because it oddly becomes easy to lose focus. I know this is a minor point but it happens to me time and again with some books but especially with this collection. The first half of the stories were not as striking as the second half because of this complication.

And as a collection this is crazy long and the stories sort of blur together when you slug through it. I know it's convenient to have all the stories here but you may need to take sufficient breaks between stories so you better appreciate them. Plus it was a big loss that the stories are read as books and not performed as dramas so one person reads a story from start to finish. This is why the Kai Owens stories rather worked more - because Rhys was also a major focus in those stories so it made sense to hear him.

TL;DR: Torchwood Tales is a massive collection of short stories about Torchwood and you're bound to find stories and performances that you liked and others that didn't work. It's still worth listening to, especially if you were a fan of the original show but it's not necessarily a coherent narrative experience. And thus the anthology gets a good 3.5 aliens sneaking to Earth as always out of a possible 5.

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