Audiobook Reviews from Audiobook-Heaven
by Pat Frank
narrated by Will Patton
Copyright: 2010 Brilliance Audio
Duration: 11 hours, 14 minutes unabridged
Genres: science fiction, post apocalypse
Filed in: Audiobook Reviews
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PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: This true modern masterpiece is built around the two fateful words that make up the title and herald the end - “Alas, Babylon.” When a nuclear holocaust ravages the United States, a thousand years of civilization are stripped away overnight, and tens of millions of people are killed instantly.
But for one small town in Florida, miraculously spared, the struggle is just beginning, as men and women of all backgrounds join together to confront the darkness. Will Patton's narration paints this classic tale as an ominous picture of the terrible possibilites of the nuclear age.
© 2010 Brilliance Audio
AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: Okay, I’m trying to start off the new year right with an audiobook from my very favorite genre, post-apocalyptic fiction. And with Alas, Babylon I hit paydirt.
Pat Frank pulls us in right from the beginning. From radio broadcasts and the conversations between characters we learn that tensions between the US and Russia have almost reached the boiling point and a nuclear war seems imminent. You have to remember that Frank wrote Alas, Babylon in 1959, in the heart of the cold war when such events were a very real possibility, or at least seemed that way. Frank explained what it was like to live in this era when he said, ”You see, all their lives, ever since they’ve known anything, they’ve lived under the shadow of war—atomic war. For them the abnormal has become normal. All their lives they have heard nothing else, and they expect it.”
It isn’t long before the unthinkable happens. The story is focused on the small town of Fort Repose, Florida, which is spared from the devastation, although just barely. Major cities in just about every direction around Fort Repose are bombed and I loved Frank’s descriptions of what his characters saw on that terrible day, the blinding flashes and mushroom clouds.
The remainder of the novel almost reads like a survival guide as Pat Frank tells us in detail how his characters survive in post-war America. He explains how they learn to live without electricity and money and gasoline and all those other things we take for granted. He shows us how they learn to barter for the goods they need since money is now worthless and how things like salt to preserve meat have suddenly become “expensive” items. There was one interesting side story where a man from Fort Repose had taken to visiting the devastated cities to scavenge for usable items. He picked up some jewelry from a jewelry store and brought it home but ended up poisoning himself with the irradiated metal. Frank seems to be saying that even when valuables are no longer valuable people will still lust after them, and that lust will ultimately lead to their demise.
I listened to Will Patton’s narration of a book called Thirteen Moons a few years ago and liked him very much. Since then I’ve been looking for another of his books but he just never seems to narrate anything I want to read until I finally came across Alas, Babylon. Patton was just as good I remembered. His narration has a certain thoughtful quality to it that I find it hard to describe. He reads with a lot of empathy and feeling. If you’ve never heard Will Patton read a story, I highly recommend him.
Alas, Babylon may seem like an outdated book in this day and age but we can still learn a lot from Pat Frank. One of my favorite moments from the novel came at the very end when a couple of men, one of them a military man, are discussing the war and one of them asks, “Who won?” I think that pretty much says it all.
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Special thanks to Brilliance Audio for this review copy.
Audiobook review by Steven Brandt.
This audiobook review is based on the unabridged audiobook.
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