HPLHS: At the Mountains of Madness


My few postings about audio dramas are – according to the WordPress stat tool – among the most popular of this blog, so maybe you guys will find this interesting. There is a review of the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society’s audio drama production of At the Mountains of Madness up at SFFAudio.

Now, SFFAudio is my first stop for getting information about audio dramas and audio books of the phantastic genres in English language. I can highly recommend it! (There’s a reason it’s in my blog roll.)

However, even though I don’t say that At the Mountains of Madness is crap, I do not entirely agree with the generally positive review.

At the Mountains of Madness

At the Mountains of Madness

The idea of beginning with a faux radio show is pretty cool, no doubt about that. There are even fake sponsor advertisments, refreshingly politically incorrect for a brand of cigarettes. ;-)  I was having fond memories of “Suspense” show’s Autolite spark plugs, when listening to that.

However, the radio show concept falls down with  the fake “live” conferences with the expedition team in Antarctica. That, too, was fun… once. It still would have been fun twice. Maybe three times. But this goes on for about 20 minutes, if my memory serves me right. Yes, they tried to achieve some fake authenticity by having these live radio conferences crackle and hiss and what have you. There’s lots of background noise, especially howling wind. But the “authentic” sound quality (i.e. it’s shit) made it very hard to understand and difficult to follow (at least for me). First I was listening to it via speakers, then I used my very good earphones and it was still difficult. As I said, that might have been fun once but it quickly became boring. Not only because of the difficulties listening to it but also from a dramatic point of view. There is not much happening, just a series of fake radio moderator comments and announcements followed by longish and barely intelligible parts.  Had it gone on for five minutes longer, I might have just turned it off. However, I persevered and after that it actually became quite good. Because it really became an audio drama.
This piece of advice might sound quite harsh, but If you listen to it have a go at the first couple of minutes to enjoy the fake radio show. After that, just fast-forward to the 20 minute mark (or somewhere around there). You won’t miss anything in between.

Also, one more (minor) thing. I bought the MP3 download version. The file is not tagged and the cover image is not included. Nothing that I cannot do myself but it still would be a nice-to-have, if they had included it as a service to the customers. After all, they only have to do it once.

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