Librivox (zipped mp3s)
Length: 7 hr, 26 min
Reader: Mark Nelson
The book: While prospecting for gold in the Wild West, John Carter, formerly of the Confederate Army, is attacked by a band of hostile Apaches. He escapes into a cave, but finds himself mysteriously transported to Mars. On Mars, or as the natives call it, "Barsoom", he finds several races of intelligent Martians, including the giant six-limbed Tharks and beautiful Dejah Thoris, a princess of the human-like red-skinned Martians.
John Carter's Barsoom adventures are frankly preposterous, even for Burroughs' day when people thought there might really be canals on Mars. However, the story has a momentum that propels it too fast to allow the reader to reflect on the inconsistencies of the plot or of the world Burroughs created. The constant cliffhangers and mild titillation gave the book great popularity among several generations of readers, including a number of science fiction writers who cited it as an important early influence. This book is a old-fashioned treat.
The reader: Mark Nelson has a deep, strong voice that sounds like an old school news announcer. His cadence is slow and repetitive, but he changes his inflection enough to keep the reading interesting. He does some light voices, not straying too far from his natural voice into campiness. The recording setup he uses has very little background noise and is clear. Nelson is a reader worth seeking out in other books.
(cover illustration courtesy of SFFaudio)