Monday, August 30, 2010

Sea Fangs by L. Ron Hubbard (unabridged audio book performed by a full cast)

Bob Sherman, one-time land owner and boat captain, had his dreams taken away by Herbert Marmion, who commandeered Sherman's property for the U.S. government's use. Trying to get to the bottom of things, Sherman hires himself out as a sailor on Marmion's ship, the Bonito. A hurricane then tosses them about, bringing forth the captain's ineptitude and Marmion's daughter Phyllis, a black-haired beauty.

The ship eventually anchors, but on the Island of Death, the headquarters of Venezuelan pirates from whom Sherman just escaped after an 18-month imprisonment. ("It would be just like the sea to bring me back where I least want to return.") It looks like Sherman is destined for recapture, but the Bonito puts up a good defense when attacked, with eight full minutes of shells and bullets making "the air ... alive with lead" on this fantastic audio adaptation of author L. Ron Hubbard's novella Sea Fangs.

Sea Fangs is a relatively early short novel from Hubbard, appearing first in the June 1934 issue of Five Novels Monthly, so it's not as skillfully crafted as works like Six-Gun Caballero and Under the Diehard Brand that were published only four years later.

The cast of Sea Fangs is, as usual for these Galaxy Audio productions, generally first-rate, with Firesign Theatre alumnus Phil Proctor tackling three relatively prominent roles and director Jim Meskimen juggling five other supporting parts. The only real fault in the production lies with the lead actress. The heroine, Phyllis, as written by Hubbard, goes through numerous emotions from devotion to grief to fear, but Kristen Proctor never gives anything more than the same flat line-readings.

Miss Proctor's performance actually detracts from the story instead of adding insight to the character. She is never once believable as the clever, strong-willed woman of action Hubbard imagined. Protagonist Bob Sherman fares considerably better, though this is due more to narrator R.F. Daley's reading of Sherman's thoughts and actions than to Shane Johnson's effort with the dialogue. That said, the audiobook of Sea Fangs is still a fine way to pass two hours, especially if you're commuting and you'd rather be on the high seas than stuck in a sea of traffic.


David Cranmer said...

The Pulp Hubbard I've read I've liked but I may pass on this one.

Craig Clarke said...

Yeah, I'm not typically a sea-adventure fellow myself. Luckily, he's written enough -- and in enough genres -- that there's plenty more to pick from. :)

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