Our ongoing series reviewing audio adaptations of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror works. Note that these reviews may contain spoilers.
By John J. Joex
Rating: 3 ½ out of 5 Stars
Starstruck is a recent release from AudioComics, a company focusing on audio versions of comic books. This production is actually based on a play of the same name that inspired the 80’s comic book series by Elaine Lee and Mike Kaluta originally run in Heavy Metal magazine and later continued for Marvel’s Epic line (and recently reprinted by IDW). The play first appeared off-off-Broadway (that’s actually an official term that refers to plays running in theaters with less than 100 seats) in 1980 and then off-Broadway in 1983. It is described as Buck Rogers meets Barbarella, but it has a whole lot of Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy thrown in as well.
The story centers around Captain Galatia 9 who at a younger age escaped from a penal colony on Omega 6, which is where she had been sent for writing feminist nursery rhymes in the Xychromo Zone. She is now working for the United Federation of Female Freedom Fighters as the captain of the Harpy. Her crew includes: Brucilla the Muscle, a gung ho scrapper who was a former girl guide then lieutenant in the Amercadian Space Brigade but who was stripped of rank and kicked out for leading her squadron into the off-limits Neutral Zone 8, where they were vaporized by Vercadian Protector Androids; Erotica Ann the science officer who was previously a pleasure droid until she became capable of independent thought and escaped from slavery (and nearly being melted down) while in the employ of the wicked Bajar Family; Sister Bronwyn of the Cosmic Veil, a psychic who left the sisterhood to join up with the Harpy; and Eeeeeeeeeluh who is an Aguatunesian empath and living alarm system and currently held captive on the Siren 3. The plot (using that term very loosely) revolves around a secret mission undertaken by the Harpy to rescue the kidnapped Prime Minister and the delivery of a highly advanced means of data storage (phone books) which puts Galatia and her crew in the grasp of the Siren 3, a large amorphous ship encased in an outer shell made up of the bodies of thousands of girl guides. This ship is commanded by the diabolical Verloona Ti who is actually the sister of Galatia. Verloona’s crew includes: Rah El Rex, creator of chaos and collector of fine art pieces; Kalif Bajar, sinister son of the Baron Roderigo Bajar (of the Bajar family mentioned above) and great-grandson of the deposed Dread Dictator; NORM, the onboard computer who has a knack for impersonations; and Dwannyun of Griivarr who was a failure as a good guy (and who everybody calls Dwayne) and has now decided to join up with the bad guys.
If you really want much more description of Starstruck than the above, or if you want it to make any type of sense, then you may just want to pass on this one. But if you want to enjoy some good, irreverent, nonsensical fun in the vein of the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, then definitely give this one a listen. As with any sort of parody, the humor is hit or miss. Some things hit the mark, others just fall flat, and I do have to admit that I rarely laughed out loud. But I still rather enjoyed the production. I would compare it to the later books in the Hitch-Hiker’s “saga” that followed after The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. Those were enjoyable, though they did not quite pack the same punch as the first two books (which by the way are best experienced as the original audio productions that first ran on the radio in the late 70’s). And the acting for Starstruck is definitely over-the-top, much more so than Hitch-Hiker’s Guide and without the “average Joe” frame of reference that Arthur Dent provided. But that’s not too distracting and I found that the production improves with multiple listens. I listened to parts of it a second time around preparing for this review and actually enjoyed it more on the second pass.
The audio production of Starstruck is for the most part decent, though it does have a few flaws. Since they apparently worked from the original script from the play, it has very little narration. But since this is an audio adaptation, it could use a little more of that because there were several times where I had difficulty following the action. Also, the audio seemed to have some flaws as at times it sounds a bit tinny and quite often you have the very real awareness that this is just actors in a sound studio reading their lines, which should never be apparent with this sort of production. But that may also have been a factor of the reviewer copy that I listened to and may have been corrected in the version available for final release. In any case, none of this should dissuade you from checking out Starstruck if looking for a good bit of fun sci fi audio listening. It’s available from multiple sources including Amazon.com MP3, iTunes and the AudioComic Company’s website at a very reasonable price (with the best price being direct from their site). And this company promises more comic book adaptations to audio in the future which I will definitely look forward to.