Friday, April 1, 2011

All Aliens Like Burgers - AudioReview

Article author: Alwyn Ash

"Young, polite and intelligent Tom Bowler has barely ever ventured out of the small English town where he grew up..."

"All Aliens Like Burgers by Ruth Wheeler, read by Debbie Chazen" - and so begins this fantastic audiobook, recorded by Spokenworld Audio and adapted from the novel of the same name by Hirst Publications. 1996. Tom Bowler, alone in a rapeseed field, encounters something that will change his life forever... It all starts at the jobcentre, where he accepts an appointment for an interview. But at 10pm? And in the middle of nowhere? Strange. However, he attends, and this is where Tom’s encounter with extra-terrestrials will lead him to Truxxe, his new home for the duration of his employment.

AALB: the audiobook benefits from sound effects; and all new music by award-winning radio, film and television composer Jon Nicholls. Debbie Chasen, too, is just perfect for this project, the various accents she employs sheer joy to hear (yes, the same actress who played Foon Van Hoff in 2007 Doctor Who story Voyage of The Damned); the audiobook brought together with skill by multiple-award winning radio & audio director Neil Gardner.

If you have already read the book and feel that there is nothing to be gained by listening to this reading, then think again - there is plenty to enjoy second time around. The very high-quality option is, quite frankly, superb (although at almost 1GB some people may find it a little too large a file to download - that is why the lovely people at Spokenworld Audio are offering additional download options, all in stereo and still high quality).

So, the story... "I wonder if aliens shave?" is a question that most of us would never ask, but author Ruth Wheeler considers every possibility, bringing humour to All Aliens Like Burgers (AALB for short) and making this just one of those sci-fi adventures that you cannot put down - or switch off. The world that central character Tom finds himself on is as large and mind-boggling as you might imagine, requiring major adjustment and new thinking which, excitedly, brings with it further comedy and misunderstandings. A sexy robot, just the kind of thing you need during long shifts. And a compsuit, allowing others to see you wearing whatever they consider as "normal dress".

In a nod to JK Rowling’s Quidditch, I believe, we are given Spotoon, a game that involves... spitting? Yes! - every pub should have one (or maybe they do and I just don’t get out much LMAO). It is also a must, in most science fiction, that a writer introduces a way of explaining how and why we are able to understand alien language, if indeed it is possible. Ruth takes this on board with ALSID (the Atmospheric Linguistic Spectrum Interpretation Device), which makes Tom’s adjustment easier until one particularly comical moment - and a frightening one too!

It also becomes quite apparent that some of Tom’s co-workers need to adapt to Human behaviour in return - Raphyl, for example, is unfamiliar with a "nod", "What does that mean, when you move your head like that?"

In addition to the main plot we have a subplot, involving brothers Schlomm and Hannond. Again, an ingenious idea that brings extra versatility to an ever developing plot structure which also involves a far deeper mystery about Truxxe itself.

"So what do I get for my money?" you ask. Well for £9.99 + VAT (at time of posting) you receive 6hrs 42mins (that's 22 chapters!) of pure unabridged entertainment. Bargain! And your download will work on any MP3 player. And as previously said, the quality is high; it is easy to see (or in this case hear) the hard work and passion that has gone into this production.

It also has to be said that All Aliens Like Burgers is Ruth’s debut novel and a follow-up, Do Aliens Read Sc-fi? is due out soon, in paperback. Both are part of The Truxxe Trilogy so do look forward to more from this book and audio series. If I have wetted your appetite (or you would just like to listen to a preview) then do pop along to Spokenworld Audio. There are also three videos to watch - one featuring Debbie chatting with the lovely Ruth Wheeler herself!

Do also check out Ruth's official website.