It’s no secret that Americans are obsessed with British accents. A professor once asked my class whether we’d rather have a surgeon with a British accent, or a Southern accent. This is at the University of Alabama, mind you, but one guess what everyone picked. Maybe there’s some cultural inferiority complex involved. Maybe, in the dark depths of the national consciousness, we regret the Revolutionary War.
Okay, definitely not that. But whatever the case, in his podcast “The Shadow in Eternity,” Ben Young’s voice—the first thing a potential listener must consider when faced with the option of sitting down at the computer and listening to a recording with no visual stimulation whatsoever—is a pleasure to listen to.
Creepy atmospheric music sets the tone for the story, but Young’s narration is superb. Character voices, too, are distinct without being caricatured. Here’s an example:
As an occasionally haughty, self-righteous and condescending University student (even if it is the University of Alabama), you can trust me what I say that Young’s imitation of a stuck-up, disdainful and contemptuous University student discussing his thesis is true to life in every way. I’d suggest a career in audio books if his writing wasn’t so good.
Did I mention? “The Shadow in Eternity” is a retelling of that classic of science fiction, Doctor Who. Technically, it’s fanfiction (oh the horrid word!), but the writing, the plot, and everything but the basic premise of a mysterious humanoid traveling through time is original.
I’ve only seen a very few episodes of Doctor Who (the David Tennant season), so I really can’t say how different Young’s story is from the plotline of the tv series. But that might be an advantage on my part. Die-hard fans hate changes, I know that much. When I reviewed AMC’s remake of The Prisoner last year, I loved it. Having never seen the original series, I couldn’t compare the two, but at the same time I didn’t have a prior bias. So take this review how you will: I’m looking at “The Shadow in Eternity” as a story on its own.
I like it.
Let’s set the stage: In 19th-century Zurich, Switzerland, monks and Masons battle over God, science, and the exhumation of a creepy old graveyard. Within the first few minutes of the first episode (an easily digestible 20 minutes long), Young already proves that he can write. Pure audio’s no problem with description like this, just of a sinister housekeeper:
“Her prominent nose, fierce eyebrows, and severely combed-back hair gave her the appearance of a hawk. For an instant, the young man felt afraid. He fancied that this lethal being had flown in through an open window and now might leap across the room and tear off his limbs or, perhaps, spurn him, and fly back to her eyrie. And then the cleaner frowned, and the menace vanished.”
I think the writing speaks for itself. And I’m going to continue to let the story speak for itself as I continue to listen to “The Shadow in Eternity.” Like I said about The Prisoner–“remake” and “original” are loaded words.