I mean, I didn’t. Not until this weekend, I mean. But, I’m told such things by – for example – the good folks at the Audiobook Publishers Association, and who am I to argue with them? After all, they’re advocates for the various entities who publish audio editions of the books we want to read but for which we maybe don’t always have time to settle back with a paperback (or eBook, if that’s your thing).
Me, personally? I’ve been listening to audiobooks for decades, going back to versions offered on cassette tapes – sometimes unabridged but more often savagely edited to fit on two (or perhaps even one…ONE!) 90-minute cassette. The advent of CDs seemed to allow for an expansion of titles and the ability to offer unabridged versions, but even then a complete audiobook adapation could still run into a dozen or more CDs. Now with digital downloads and physical media storage no longer being a primary consideration, unabridged audiobooks are all the rage.
For me, audiobooks fantastic for long road trips, but I’m just as liable to have one in my car’s player (or on my phone) so I can listen to one in chunks whenever I’m driving around town. I also use an app on my phone that lets me check out audiobooks from my public library system and download the file(s) for a set time to my device. These are great whenever I’m taking my walks around the lakes in our neighborhood.
Listening to audiobooks is just one more weapon I can deploy in my seemingly neverending quest to conquer my ever-growing “To Be Read” pile. They’ve even helped me discover authors. The first time I “read” a book by Nelson DeMille, for example, was listening to the audiobook version of his novel The General’s Daughter. The reading on that early 1990s cassette edition was performed by actor Ken Howard, who for my money was bang-on perfect giving voice to the book’s first-person narrator, Army criminal investigator Paul Brenner. Howard returned to read DeMille’s sequel to the novel, Up Country, and again I thought he nailed Brenner perfectly, the same way noted audiobook reader Scott Brick has become The Voice for one of DeMille’s other popular characters, Detective John Corey, who stars in a series of novels involving him first as a police officer and later a member of a joint terrorism task force.
Other times, an audiobook is a means to revisit a novel I’ve already read but want to experience it in an a different manner than simply picking up the print edition. This has been the case for more titles and authors than I can easily list here, but some examples are Tom Clancy (The Hunt for Red October), Clive Cussler (Raise the Titanic, Vixen 03), Joseph R. Garber (Vertical Run), Andy Weir (The Martian, Artemis), and Ernest Cline (Ready Player One) to name just a handful.
Non-Fiction is in the mix, too. Motivated as I was by the previous presidential administration, I found myself listening to audio adaptations of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s All the President’s Men as well as Woodward’s Fear. Other recent listens include Erik Larson’s Dead Wake, about the last voyage of the Lusitania, Chris Nashaway’s Caddyshack: The Making of A Hollywood Cinderella Story, and even Kevin Smith’s Tough Sh*t.
And yes, there are more than a few Star Trek audiobooks I’ve stuck in my ears. Occupational hazard, you know, but it also provides me with a nice little segue, as audiobooks have served as yet another intersection point between my reading hobby as well as my professional world. The first such audiobooks came out in in the late 1980s and continued with new releases into the early 2000s, focusing primarily on adaptations of hardcover Star Trek novels as well as the novelizations of the four movies featuring the Star Trek: The Next Generation cast. They went into limbo for a few years before experiencing a brief resurgence with audio versions of the novelizations for the first two “reboot” films, 2009’s Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness from 2013.
As part of Simon & Schuster’s celebration of Star Trek‘s 50th anniversary in 2016, the publisher tapped writers Greg Cox and David Mack along with Kevin Dilmore and myself to write the Star Trek: Legacies trilogy. As icing on the cake, we were informed that these books would be adapted as audiobooks, perhaps kickstarting a renewed interest in adapting various Star Trek novels for the format.
By all accounts, sales of the Legacies audiobooks – now offered primarily as unabridged digital downloads and with each book narrated by actor Robert Petkoff – were very strong, prompting Simon & Schuster to keep the party going with audiobook adaptations of other Star Trek novels in the production pipeline. To date, nearly every Star Trek novel published after the Legacies books has received the audio treatment, including the five I’ve written since Kevin and I teamed up for Purgatory’s Key. Though I haven’t seen an official announcement, I suspect this will also be the case for the Star Trek: Coda trilogy coming later this year, for which I wrote the first book, Moments Asunder.
(Yes, this it the part where I go into shameless marketing mode.)
Star Trek: Legacies – Purgatory’s Key
Star Trek: The Next Generation – Headlong Flight
Star Trek: The Next Generation – Hearts and Minds
Star Trek: Discovery – Drastic Measures
Star Trek: The Next Generation – Available Light
Star Trek: The Original Series – Agents of Influence
In addition to these, Mr. Petkoff lent his voice to most of the new offerings to date, actress January LaVoy has also offered her own considerable talents for a few titles, and author Kirsten Beyer narrated the audio version of her most recent Star Trek: Voyager novel, To Lose the Earth.
While there don’t seem to be any plans to dig into Simon & Schuster’s rather massive backlist and adapt older Star Trek novels for audio, I was very pleased back in 2019 when they opted to republish Gene Roddenberry’s novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the book’s publication but also their publishing of Star Trek books dating back to 1979. For the first time, the book received an unabridged audio adaptation (read by Mr. Petkoff), which for me provided an easy means of revisiting the novel…something I’d not done in many, many years and which I’d been planning to do that year in observance of the anniversary. It was quite the treat to “relive the story” in this manner.
Away from Star Trek, I’ve been fortunate to have a few other tales of mine ported to audiobook format. First, there was my short story “Day to Day,” my contribution to one of my very favorite projects in recent years, 2113: Stories Inspired By the Music of Rush. Edited by Kevin J. Anderson and John McFetridge, all of the anthology’s stories is read by actor Paul Boehmer, whose commanding voice breathes vivid life into each of the tales. It was a privilege to be invited to write for the anthology in the first place, but to have it given such a wonderful audio adaptation was quite the bonus.
Then came the audio version of the Predator anthology If It Bleeds, edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt. Included among the collection’s 16 stories is my tale “Recon.” This time around, Editor Bryan and publisher Titan Books saw to it each story received its own narrator; an impressive feat of logistics and cat herding if I’ve ever heard one. For “Recon,” I benefitted from the vouce talents of actor Peter Berkrot. The strategy of recruiting an entire cast to narrate the book looks to have been pretty smart, as the audiobook edition of If It Bleeds ended up winning the 2018 Best Narration – Short Story Anthology award from the Society of Voice Arts and Sciences. How ’bout them apples?
So, yeah…audiobooks are pretty dang cool.
Trying to compile a list of favorites or even a roster of candidates for anyone looking to try a few (more) of their own would keep us here all day. Suffice it to say there’s something out there for anyone looking to put some storytelling between their ears. But, don’t let that or me stop you from offering your favorites down in the comments.
Happy listening, and “Happy Audiobook Month!”