This isn’t an audio book. Much better than that, it’s audio drama, a relatively rare thing these days. The BBC produces a considerable output of audio drama with plays broadcast on a daily basis and there are also facilities in Ireland for doing the same. With very few outlets now existing since Canada and Australia shut down their drama departments, mainly for economic reasons, it’s very refreshing to see something new in this field but, to experience it, you have to adopt a new frame of mind. Like a movie without pictures, you’ve got to shut your eyes and imagine the scenes, quite easy to do if you try and experience the wonder of audio drama. Fortunately, I’ve got some modest experience in this area, having written audio drama in the past and it was a bit of bonus to get ‘Titanium Rain’ to review. So, what’s it all about?
Basically it’s about a war in the future, 2031, in China of all places. According to the scenario, a civil war has broken out in China and, as usual, American troops have been posted abroad trying to sort out the trouble. The action centres on a fighter pilot, Alec Killian, who becomes involved in the action, so much so that machine and man are intertwined. It’s a war where millions are killed! Much has been made of the controversial nature of this play, faithfully adhering to the original graphic novel, where China falls apart into war. The book is no longer printed in China because they don’t like the storyline. Frankly, I don’t blame the Chinese government in their disapproval. Trying to look at it from a different perspective, how would a novel be regarded in the USA where Chinese government troops were trying to sort out an American Civil War? China has been stable for years, only experiencing turmoil when foreign powers meddled in their affairs for a couple of centuries and now that they have gathered themselves together with great success striding on to the future in this century, it’s easy to see a modicum of jealousy in other nations now on the decline. I wouldn’t make much of this controversial storyline but it’s a story nonetheless.
It is a good audio play with plenty of interesting special effects which should be listened to on a good sound system. Josh Finney is the author of the script, likewise the graphic novel, and there is a good musical score by Jonathan Sharp from the BBC. There is a full cast of actors which go together to make this a magnificent audio extravaganza. If you have experience of listening to BBC plays, you’ll find this different. I would say it’s better in some respects than the BBC as far as sound effects are concerned but probably lacking as far as scripting goes. The storyline is less compact but with this CD you get more time for expansion. Because it’s American in nature, it somewhat difficult to tell characters apart from each other, especially at the beginning and a little knowledge of the graphic novel would help greatly. Nonetheless, as you progress through the story, you become familiarised with who is who, making it more enjoyable. Remember, you can’t see pictures and all you have to go on for recognition is the sound of voices.
There is plenty of action, gunfire, death and destruction and cursing. Stereo effects of aeroplanes and the fights they are engaged in are tremendous. Along with the excellent soundtrack, there are also songs from various bands, very effective in the setting of this war. I don’t think the story about the fighting and the points they are trying to make are necessarily relevant, especially in their political context, but apart from that you’ll find this a great experience. This is not something to listen to in the background, that would dishonour the people who made it and it’s got to be enjoyed with mind focused on the sound, in a room with nothing else attacking the senses apart from the CD in your audio system. Incidentally, this is also available as download and it’s best to check the prices at the time of ordering. Generally, this is available under $23 for a neat little CD package with good style and presentation. In the UK, you’ll probably pay the equivalent in pounds sterling and be warned, if you get hooked on this, it’s only the first instalment. More is expected in the future.
Killian’s squadron is called Phoenix, a rebirth in many ways. The pilots involved in the war were not the best. Lots of the best had been killed already making engagement rather expensive as far as valuable experienced lives were concerned but this is 2031 and technology has taken over. Pilots have been augmented by nanomachines running through their systems. They are now super-pilots but will they still be human? This is a world conflict. Islamic terrorists assassinated the Chinese leader, precipitating a military coup in China where the new leader takes on the guise of an emperor. With China and Japan never really coming to terms after the Second World War, conflict breaks out in this area. The war is complicated and messy! The USA, allied to Japan, get involved. The only thing you don’t see is a good old British Tommy on the front line.
I’m not saying that I am an expert on China but I think the storyline is very unlikely. Hopefully I’m right. I think there will be a world conflict but in a different area. Apart from that, this is a very good audio drama and one to be relished. If you have experience of only audio books, this is definitely nothing like that. It’s not like a DVD. It’s a unique experience on its own and one to recommend.
(pub: Audio Comics Company. 1 CD 98 mins. 8 tracks. Price: $22.95 (US), £27.80 (UK). ASIN: 098547971X)
check out website: http://titaniumrainaudio.com/