Saturday, March 3, 2007

And then there's the poor English accent ...

I am disappointed in this so far: Larklight (several long subtitles) by Philip Reeve. Even if you aren't a sci fi buff, what's not to like about the Hungry Cities chronicles (Mortal Engines, etc.)? And this book ... ok here's the full title: Larklight, or, The revenge of the white spiders!, or, To Saturn's rings and back! : a rousing tale of dauntless pluck in the farthest reaches of space ... is equally inventive and fun. The English Victorians have expanded the Empire into outer space (where oxygen is conveniently available, however gravity isn't). Art and his sister Myrtle are living off the edge of the moon in the old mansion Larklight when giant spiders attack and kill [?] their father and they escape to the moon's surface. There they are rescued by one Pirate Jack Havoc -- who bears a striking resemblence to Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirate King (the whole orphan thing) -- and now the space adventures are to begin (I've just started the third tape -- yup! this is bathroom book).

But back to my disappointment, the reader is trying desperately to relate this story in an English accent, and -- unfortunately -- he is failing at it. He just ends up sounding fake and odd. It's a real shame and I'm not sure that I'm going to hold it against him in the nomination arena, because he is really doing a fine job with his characters. There are a large variety of them -- human and otherwise -- and he's made believable, distinctive choices for each one. Plus, he does girls just fine (some male voices go all whispery, and women narrating boys often seem to opt for nasality and gruffness).

In the meantime, I'm deep into The Black Tattoo: We now know that Charlie has been taken over by the Scourge, he's killed all but one member of the Brotherhood (all the killing is taking place in a un-gruesome way I might add), and now he's entered Hell. His loyal friend Jack has followed him there ...

Among the many things I'm liking about John Lee, the narrator, is that he's not afraid to yell (Charlie does a certain amount of wordless shouting). This helps when one is trying to block out cell phone conversations on the bus ... grrr ... but that's another story!

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