T. Ray Gordon,
Inhumanity Quest
(Apex Audio Theatre, 2005)

T. Ray Gordon is getting a second chance to make a name for his writing. Much of his work has been resurrected decades after his death. Back in the 1940s, Gordon began writing a series of science-fiction manuscripts for live radio airplay. Over the course of two decades he managed to create 72 original stories. If I understood the information from the Apex Audio Theatre website correctly, the majority of these have never been heard by the general public.

Now, thanks to the narration of Richard Sellers and a cast of actors, the first of these tales, Inhumanity Quest, is now available on CD. This story, a little over an hour long, takes place on a warship headed toward enemy space. Humans and a race known as the Kaedens have been at war for two generations. Mankind has sent this ship with a one-of-a-kind weapon to take out the Kaeden sun, destroying the monsters once and for all.

When a surprise attack by Kaeden fighters turns the warship in to a derelict piece of space junk, Chief Michaels is seemingly the only survivor of the attack. Is there any way he can salvage the mission? The weapon is still intact. The warship had a skiff used for short excursions. While it does not have much of a range, the warship was close to its destination when the attack occurred.

I listen to a lot of audiobooks and this book has the best, most consistent audio effects I think I've heard. Coupled with a soundtrack that emphasizes the emotional rollercoaster one would expect with the potential destruction of mankind, the audio experience is sometimes intense. The writing is such that it is easy to picture the story in one's mind. As such, I actually felt as if I had television on in the other room and was occasionally taking a peek at what was happening while I heard all the dialogue. The drama is sometimes a little much, but the overall presentation is rather well done.

In short, I would say that if you are a science fiction fan, or even a fan of radio plays popular before the days when television overshadowed that invention, you would enjoy Inhumanity Quest. I think it would be very interesting to compare Sellers' adaptation to the original presentation back in 1946. This story could easily have been written this year instead of 60 years ago. Let's hope the next 71 tales are at least as good as Inhumanity Quest, if not better. Welcome back, T. Ray Gordon. Good luck this second time around!

by Wil Owen
18 February 2006