Recently, Galaxy Press provided me with a free copy of their science fiction audio drama Beyond All Weapons by L. Ron Hubbard and asked me to give an honest review. I was happy to oblige, because it had been a while since I listened to an audio drama. When I was in high school and college, I enjoyed popping them into my CD player, and listening while I did schoolwork or crafts. Back then, my go-to was J.R. Tolkien or H.G. Wells (anyone remember the effect the War of the Worlds radio drama had on people? Ah! Alien invasion!). Listening to an audio drama is a different experience than some of the more popular storytelling – movies and television. It requires a bit more imagination, but isn’t as restrictive as a book, which you need to sit and hold.
Before Veronica Roth’s Divergent and Suzanne Collin’s Hunger Games, there was the works of L. Ron Hubbard. If you aren’t familiar with Hubbard, he was a pulp fiction writer in the 1930’s and 1940’s, a literary golden age when short stories were gobbled up at the rate of our weekly television shows. Pulp magazines didn’t feature the fancy prose of Shakespeare or Jules Verne, but there was some great storytelling in them and Hubbard was a favorite. He drew inspiration from his stories straight from his real life, because he wasn’t the type of writer to just sit back and dream up adventure – he wanted to live it!…And, yes, he also invented Scientology, but first and foremost, he was a writer!
Hubbard wrote everything from sea adventures to science fiction, and Galaxy Press has made many of his short stories into audio dramas. The set they graciously sent me, Beyond All Weapons, contains three of his stories, which amounts to about two hours of entertainment. Here’s a brief synopsis of each:
“Beyond All Weapons” (Main Feature)
(via Galaxy Press) Han Solo of Star Wars could learn a thing or two from Firsten Guide, the tough, wise-cracking rebel leader who’s light years ahead of his time—and about to lead his crew into a battle that’s Beyond All Weapons. Because the force is most assuredly with Firsten.
He and his fellow colonizers of Mars have faced a brutal crackdown engineered by Earth’s tyrannical government. But the resourceful Firsten has developed an extraordinary new fuel that enables him and his hardy band to escape into space—and time.
Escape, however, is not enough. Firsten wants revenge. But the universe is full of unexpected twists and turns. Just as Prometheus flew too close to the sun, Firsten will soon discover that when you break the laws of physics, you can get burned.
“Strain” (Bonus Story)
Captain Forrester de Wolf and Flight Officer Morrison of Earth are shot down and taken prisoner by the Saturnians. The captain has heard stories about the torture the Saturnians inflict on their prisoners and he tries to prepare his flight officer, but once they are separated, he knows it’s up to him to protect the secrets of Earth’s battle plan. He must resist their interrogations and find a way to escape.
“The Invaders” (Bonus Story)
Gedso Ion Brown, a technician from the Extra-Territorial Scienticorps, is ordered to go to the Crystal Mines to help them build a weapon to further their fight against alien attacks. While there, Gedso faces an arrogant general who has little more respect for him than the convicts under his command. The general wants Gedso to behave like every other technician and make him a weapon bigger and badder than the one he’s already using, but Gedso wants to take another approach. What develops will amaze you.
I don’t have much time for crafts right now, so I listened to the Beyond All Weapons collection while I worked. My desk is a cubicle, so it helped to block out the other people who were making phone calls and chatting around me, which helped me be more productive.
I was pleased by the quality of the recording. The voice actors were enjoyable to listen to. They were expressive and easy to imagine, and had that “old school” grammar and tone you’d expect from the 1930’s and 1940’s.
Hubbard’s stories were a product of his time. Many of the science fiction elements are outdated and come across as ideas you’d see in a C-rated movie, like the aliens from Saturn in “Strain”. His portrayal of women as slightly naïve, fragile creatures is a bit backwards; however, those ideas were common for the golden age of pulp fiction. Once you accept them as that, you can appreciate how his stories captured the charm of that age.
Hubbard was a natural storyteller. He thoroughly developed his worlds and was a pioneer in his use of Einstein’s theories of space and time in storytelling. He also included plot twists and turns as good as Hitchcock. At times, I felt like I was listening to the Twilight Zone. New storytellers can learn a thing or two from him.
Without giving anything away, I loved the twist in “Beyond All Weapons”. It was completely unexpected and served up a lesson for listeners, which I love to see in storytelling. I also enjoyed the humor in “The Invaders” and the tension of “Strain”, but my favorite character was Gedso in “The Invaders”. He was cool and collected in the face of his adversary, the kind of character you can root for.
My only complaint may be more of a personal preference, something others may handle better than I…
“Strain” would have been more enjoyable without the sound of the animals being tortured. I had to skip forward through those parts. It made my stomach churn. On the other hand, that may well prove that the sound mixers did an excellent job putting the audio together.
I would definitely recommend Galaxy Press’s Beyond All Weapons audio drama to anyone who enjoys audiobooks and science fiction. I had a lot of fun listening to it. I personally plan on checking out their other collections, because I was so impressed by this one.
Beyond All Weapons can be found for sale on the Galaxy Press website, as well as major retailers – Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Audible, etc.
Luckily for YOU, Galaxy Press has given me TWO COPIES TO GIVE AWAY! All you need to do is enter below. Each task gives you one entry. The giveaway will end on Friday, March 28th and I will draw two names*. Good luck!
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*Only open to residents of U.S. and Canada.