Communicator (communicator) wrote,

'He do the police in different voices'

I'm listening to Red Mars on audio at the moment. It's a wide ranging story with dozens of vivid characters in it, but the reading is quite different from the other multi-character stories I have listened to lately. I'm wondering whether this is because of cultural differences between the way British and American companies and voice-artists approach audio books. or it may just be coincidence that all the American-voiced audios I have listened to have been delivered in this style, and the Brits in another.

In this reading of Red Mars there is almost no attempt to differentiate characters by sex, age or nationality. Russians, Arabs, Americans, French, men and women, they are all delivered in the same voice. Instead the reading is calm, authoritative and measured. This lends gravitas and conviction to the story, and helps deliver its imaginative leap into a speculative future. I think I'm following the plot better than I did when I read it in text. On the other hand it loses some of the humour and warmth of Kim Stanley Robinson's original.

In contrast I just finished listening to an abridged version of Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. This was done is a dazzling style, with different interlocking actors being used to voice the nested storylines in diverse vocal styles. Great fun, very engaging, but almost impossible to understand (and I've read the book). Having said that, swimming as I was on top of the story, occasionally grabbing some clue as to what the heck was happening, I was so emotionally affected by it that at times I had to pause the story to collect myself, because it was so painful or moving.

So - different styles, different strengths and weaknesses.

The heading BTW is from 'Our Mutual Friend' by Dickens, and furnished TS Eliot with a draft title for the poem that became The Wasteland. It describes a barely literate man (called Sloppy IIRC) who reads the newspaper to his wife in a colourful style.

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