Monday, August 1, 2011

Kangazang! Remote Possibilities - AudioReview

Article author: Alwyn Ash

If you have recently purchased this and wish to avoid spoilers – turn down the volume! If you are interested in reading more, go right ahead…

What can I say about the Universe of "Kangazang!"? Crazy? Humorous? How about a crazy and humorous journey in a Marshmallow Penguin, a psychedelic adventure with spacehoppers, a deranged queen, and a pair of robots? All of the above, it seems, and much more, for author Terry Cooper's "Kangazang!" is a fantastical romp of science fiction.

First impressions are misleading – this is not for the very young. Perhaps the book and audio cover designs will have you believing otherwise. But the travels of Jeff Spooner are for a mature audience, I believe (and if I am wrong then I have lived a very sheltered life. OK, yes, I have lived a sheltered life). The various sexual innuendoes and language, though not particularly strong, would have some parents diving for the CD player... (I shall no doubt now receive an email from seven-year-old Dan, residing in Leeds, telling me that I’m a g*t for having written this review and persuading his parents to cancel his Kangazang! order. Sorry Dan – whoever you are!)

And so to the story... Jeff is a human with an unusual friend named Ray Scump. Ray is a barber, though no ordinary barber – for he has been collecting hair for some years… and there is a very sane explanation, thank goodness – Ray needs it for his spacecraft. And so Jeff Spooner finds himself being whisked off into space with his new companion, the barber with long hair. An exciting experience, you would believe. Well… yes, exciting but also perilous, for there are dangers ahead – oh, and very beautiful women, one of them a cannibal, the other a robot called M25. With one you get eaten, her delicious lips savouring your taste; and the other – oils you? Is robot love even possible? Well in the realms of science fiction and fantasy everything is possible!

I totally "get" Cooper’s humour in an instant. And so did legend Colin Baker, for it were he who accepted the task of transferring novel to audiobook, and a fine job he made of it. But more about Mr Baker later. Terry’s play with words and situations will have you smiling, giggling, and LOLing (yes it is that good!) – every character well thought out and brought to life.

It is interesting to hear that this author managed to write half of "Remote Possibilities" while having no Internet access; however, the evil 'Net back in place, it was only upon the prospect of a book deal that Terry finished his work in its entirety. Yes, the Web is a total distraction – not always a good thing. Terry Cooper also admits that inspiration for Kangazang! surfaced from his interest in both Douglas Adams's work and Ben Elton's humour. You can identify with both, and the story thrives on Terry's ability to turn what could have been a dull adventure into something that ticks every box.

And so to the players: Colin Baker, known for his role as the Sixth Doctor in the BBC hit show Doctor Who (never forget he also portrayed Commander Maxil, of the Gallifreyan Chancellery Guard, before being cast as the most famous of Time Lords), oozes passion and charisma, transferring his personality to audio. After listening to Colin in "Remote Possibilities" it would be hard to accept a follow-up without his amazing talents. No matter how much it costs – do bring him back for the second book adaptation, please!

It isn’t often that an author promotes his/her own work by appearing in an audio adaptation, but Terry is quite clearly a player of many parts, his presence helping to enhance Colin's already perfect delivery. As the author rightly points out, this is less of an audiobook and more of an audiobook drama - so is this an audiobrama? Credit must also go to fellow actor Claire Cage ("Torchwood Series 2: Sleeper") who portrays three characters in this tale: Sarah, Geoff’s fiancée; Queen Shelley; and M25, a robot with a malfunction.

Now to those adorable Hoppas... I cannot help but think that these wonderful creatures were inspired by "Doctor Who", in part. They are very reminiscent of the Kangs from the 1987 serial "Paradise Towers" - not only do we have "Kang" in the title but the little darlings even talk like a Kang! Now this is where the "possibilities" get interesting... a Hoppas spin-off? It is very likely, and author Terry Cooper has already considered the idea. So do watch out for "Pon Pon Plays a Game", a colourful illustrated storybook aimed at pre-school children...

If you purchase the "Kangazang!" four-disk set, which comprises three CDs and one DVD, you will discover some extras: "HypaDrive Report" (with Jemery Zarkson) takes a look at the spacecraft (or haircraft) owned by barber Ray Scump, which “comes in a range of finishes to suit all personalities” – including Ferraroid Red and Hideous Pink. In addition, there are interviews with Colin Baker, Terry Cooper, and Claire Cage: it is satisfying to see that Colin is proud to have been a part of "Doctor Who", considering how badly treated he was at the time, his respect for the show is always evident, like it is here. Both Terry and Claire also come across as the nicest of people, and it is indeed a delight to watch them.

Also included are a "Hoppa Animation" (demonstrating that a cartoon version of "Kangazang!" would indeed be a marvelous thing) and a photo gallery (featuring both "Kangazang!" images and behind-the-scenes studio recording) and a video trailer. There is far more to the story than I have already mentioned: in addition there is Overlord Kelvin, the Emo People, and plenty of music, television and film references to amuse. Whether you are interested in purchasing the abridged audiobook (and DVD) or novel, "Kangazang!" is a hit!

Further reading: Candy Jar - Official website.