Thursday, December 31, 2009

Audio Dramas: Ride The Streets Of Mega City With Judge Dredd

At first glance one would think that converting such a stylized  futuristic and post apocalyptic comic book to audio would be a crazy notion that would get one locked up in an Iso-cube for many a year for even the Thought Crime needed to conceive the notion. But the style of 2000 A.D. lends its self well to this format and the masters of sound production at Big Finish actually paint a vary vibrant landscape for your mind’s eye to enjoy. Minus the smudged ink stains on your fingers as an added bonus.

Now before I go any further let us get something clear. This series has little to do with the mid 90’s movie adaption of the famous British comic icon. No Sly Stallone imitations, references or utterances can be made in comparison to these fine audio works in regards to that film. However, and I’m not afraid to say it, I do have a bit of a love for the campy version of the 2000 A.D. universe that the movie does seem to capture well. And, gulp, I may happen to own a copy of it on Laser Disc. no, I’m not kidding.

But back to the matters at hand. This sonic version of Dredd is firmly rooted in the classic age of the character. Knowing the back-story of the Rogue’s Gallery for the Judges is helpful but not required reading for audio enjoyment of these stories. The series does a good job in providing exposition on the fly. And before you know it you will know your Judge Death from your Judge Anderson in no time.

The series also sports some tremendous voice acting. Toby Longworth does an amazing job at embodying the grizzled veteran lawman. You hear his years on the streets in every story. His take on the role is fantastic for what some would say is a two dimensional funny book hero. However, the supporting cast does just as well in many of the plays in this series. Most notable is Simon Pegg, pre “Shaun of the Dead” and “Star Trek” days, as Johnny Alpha in the Strontium Dog stories. Each episode has its own cast of Big Finish regulars as well making it a treat to listen to if you follow the other ranges offered by the company.

The sound design is also a star attraction. the roar of the Lawmasters, the sound of the Lawgivers various weaponry and the attention to detail to the actors placement in their environments immerse you in the universe of the universe of the Cursed Earth. Headphones are a must with this range.

But to make this version of Dredd work you need some mighty fine writing. Clever satire is a trademark of the 2000 A.D. series and the audio counterpart is no slouch in this area at all. Hidden meanings, jokes on culture and plays on words abound in the series. Better yet, the stories move at a quick pace and rarely do they have to rely on visual descriptions to get the point of view of the action across to the listener.

If you stay with the series throughout the 18 episode run you will find some continuity and call backs to earlier stories. Moreover, long periods of time spent with the Judges and their adversaries may just have you speaking Mega City slang like a pro. This secondary Orwellian DoubleSpeak goes a long way in explaining the culture, or lack their of in some cases, of the world in which the Judges try their criminals. And it is one of the aspects of the series that is most like its comic book cousin.

The series only ran for 18 episodes, however, it has been reassigned to the “Chronicles” line of stories earlier this year. The new audio book format has been awarded four adventures, the first of which reported for duty in October 2009. Hopefully this will bring about another tour of duty for judge Joseph Dredd and crew in 2010. Those who are looking for some Sci Fi action though may like that there are a smaller number of stories to collect though.

If you are interested in learning more about these great audios then visit the Big Finish website at the link below.

To learn more about the characters and the worlds of 2000 A.D. go to this Wiki page..

Finally! Poll Results And New Poll Added For January 2010

I realize it has been like forever since we last looked at a poll. So, to refresh everyone’s memory..

Poll Question: Which Upgrade Do You Want To Buy?

Windows 7   6 (42%)
Kurzweil 1000 Version 12   2 (14%)
Apple 10.6 Snow Leopard    2 (14%)
JAWS 11.0   4 (28%)

Windows 7 has come roaring out of the gate in both sales and public perception, therefore, it isn’t surprising that many of you are keen to upgrade to the latest version of Windows. As I said in my remarks from Detroit, and again to those who scoffed then and now, XP is going to see a swift move to the back burner for many in development and in the Enterprise. The consumer side of things may take a little longer than Microsoft would like, however, eventually new computer sales will end XP’s life cycle over the next two years.

Speaking of upgrades, how about we take the temperature on how many feel about the new offerings from Humanware?

Poll: Braille Note Apex: Thumbs Up Or Thumbs Down

I Want A Braille Sense Plus
I Want An Icon
I Use A Laptop Or A Netbook As My Note Taker

I’ve set this one for the middle of the month. We may revisit this one though once the new units start to ship in earnest. Maybe by convention we may have more fuel for this fire.

A New Year, A New Coat Of Paint And The SAme Old Me

Firstly, I want to wish all of you a happy new year. Next, I want to say that I’ve redesigned TRS a bit. Some things are still under construction, however, it was time for some kind of a refresh. This now makes version 3.0 by my count. I hope it looks and feels okay to one and all.

I know it looks like I’ve somewhat abandoned the blog as of late. That wasn’t my intention. Things have been in a state of flux for me since, oh I don’t know, around June. So many new products, so many new versions of programs and so little time in which to see and hear it all.

I have also taken a huge liking to Twitter. Many small bits of info that I find fascinating end up there. Especially if I don’t have to blather on about them. Such is the joy of 140 characters. My original plan was to sum up the week’s tweets in a blog post or two. The kibosh on that came when I realized the sheer number of tweets I was either passing along or creating was, well it was a staggering amount to keep track of that is for sure.

The speed at which technology moves is, and has pretty much always been, somewhere near the speed of light. Assistive Technology, however, has traditionally hung about in the realms of the sound barrier as far as that analogy will take me to the neighborhood of a point. And that point is that recent moves in AT have put the speedometer at Warp 9 lately. 

Windows 7 triggered a new round of software updates. Mac and Snow Leopard did the same. But I wasn’t prepared for the vast increase in hardware choices that have cropped up in the last six months. From the Book Sense to the Apex to the Intel Reader.. it all happened in a span of four months. And that isn’t even the half of things. The long list of Video Magnifiers from Humanware, G.W. Micro and a zillion Chinese competitors made up the lion’s share of my offline work for the last half of 2009. Crazy times I tell you.

Does this madness end in 2010? This Magic Eight Ball I’m holding says “Are you kidding me?.. Heck no!”. Let’s see, we have Office 2010 come to us in June. that means more patches and versions of stuff. Then we have another round of Video Magnifiers hitting the streets around the time of CSUN. And then there is the complete insanity that is E-Books and how to read them. Yep, the novelty item speaks the truth.

I can’t promise that I’ll be posting in depth looks at things as I have done in the past. I can’t promise that I’ll be the first on the net to break stories due to many rules that come with signing a N.D.A.. But I will promise to post more than I have in the last half of this year. Guilt is a driving force in my life. [Joke implied of course]