Star Trek audio lit: abridged vs. unabridged

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by SurvivorJoe, Jan 28, 2021.

  1. SurvivorJoe

    SurvivorJoe Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I recently got my hands on a bunch of older Trek audiobooks from the '90s, the S&S ones that are "enhanced with sound effects and an original score". I listened to a couple of these when I was a kid, specifically the Voyager novel "Mosaic" and the Shatnerverse novel "The Return". I remembered really enjoying the atmosphere these audiobooks created with the sound effects and scores and was wanting to listen to some more of them now, but then I realized that they're all abridged! When I listened to "Mosaic" and "The Return" I'm not sure I even knew what abridged meant. But now as an adult I hate the idea that there's more to the story that I'm not getting.

    So basically I was curious to get the opinions of some others who might be more familiar with these audiobooks to see just how abridged they are? Are there any that I should just completely avoid because there's too much cut out, or any that the missing material really doesn't matter?
     
  2. Dayton Ward

    Dayton Ward Word Pusher Rear Admiral

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    It depends on the individual title, but the abridgements go in degrees from "extensive" to "savage."

    The first audiobooks based on S&S novels came out in 1986. At the time, cassette tapes were the norm for this kind of thing, so it was a matter of retail price vs format limitation. An unabridged audiobook could easily run into double-digit cassettes if you let it. Even when they began putting them on CD (before they started offering audiobooks as MP3s), an audiobook could be 15 or more CDs in some cases, and at the time I guess it was felt not enough people would pony up the money to buy something like that for a Star Trek novel. 3 CDs seemed to be the norm, for a while.

    (Whatevs.)

    The first Trek audiobooks were usually one or two cassettes, running about 1.5 to 3 hours. I've heard the abridgements for "bigger" books like Strangers from the Sky and Enterprise: The First Adventure were cut down to something like barely a third (or less!) of what their length would be if unabridged. A few titles, like Strangers and The Entropy Effect, were given an audio adaptation on a single cassette. Ouch.

    Digital downloads have mostly done away with the limitations of physical media, and audiobooks in general have enjoyed a huge renaissance. I listen to as many (unabridged) audiobooks these days as I do reading print books. They're great for my regular walks around the lakes in my neighborhood, or long commutes in the car. Even just tooling around town, I'm liable to have one going rather than listening to music.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2021
  3. Desert Kris

    Desert Kris Captain Captain

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    Most of my experience with abridged books are from the 90s. Star Wars books and a couple Tom Clancy's. I understand why that was the practice, but I was glad that they started to move towards unabridged more and more. The Star Wars books still do sound effects, but it's nice to know its the whole book.

    I've listened to a couple of the new Star Trek books, and I'm glad to have them, and I don't care about the lack of sound effects. It can be bad for an audiobook if the effects are too generic sometimes, so that's okay.
     
  4. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    Some of the earliest abridgements are very clever. Often abridged by the original authors. (After the first 15, George Truett was usually credited as having abridged each book.) The first 11 abridged audios also have "Science Officer's Logs", especially written for Leonard Nimoy "as the voice of Spock", accommodating Nimoy's limited availability and providing an efficient way of summarising chunks of each book while James Doohan and George Takei do the rest of the narratives, interspersed with Spock's log entries. The first eight audios are all only 90 mins each, but I think quite effective.

    "Strangers from the Sky" is still a favourite, managing to tell a "giant paperback" story in just 90 mins. George Takei doing the Southern accent of Melody Sawyer is amazing. (He won an audio award for one of his contributions.)

    "The Entropy Effect" is read by Leonard Nimoy and George Takei, even though Sulu's whole subplot has been abridged right out of the audio to fit the 90 mins limit. It uses Kirk/Spock cover art from the novel "Triangle", since Sulu was also on the cover of the original novel. IIRC, Vonda McIntyre herself prepared the audio script of her own book.

    Hearing James Doohan, as the voice of Captain Robert April (reprising his voice role from a Filmation TAS episode), doing the famous "Space, the final frontier..." speech is a highlight of Diane Carey's "Final Frontier".

    "Q-in-Law" features John deLancie as Q and Majel Barrett as Lwaxana Troi. It is such a hoot!

    I do find that I replay the older abridgments way more often than unabridged. With their specially composed music, they feel like whole extra Trek products, especially the ones with Nimoy teamed with Takei or Doohan. In fact, I have never replayed an unabridged one.

    My full listing is here:
    https://therinofandor.blogspot.com/p/i-hear-star-trek.html
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2021
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  5. David cgc

    David cgc Admiral Premium Member

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    I once had an idea to do a few spaceship scenes from The Ashes of Eden as animations, using the graphic novel adaptation as storyboards and the audiobook as narration. I finally tracked down a copy of the audiobook, and found that not only did it not have any of the passages I wanted to use, what it did have was pretty much wallpapered in music and sound effects. Plus Shatner had a surprisingly undramatic reading-style.
     
  6. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

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    I have no interest in audiobooks. What I'd LOVE to see would be some more ORIGINAL AUDIO DRAMAS.

    George Takei's bass voice for a female character?!? I can hear him with a drawl, but not in even a contralto range.
     
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  7. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Oh, had the Epics on Audio CD when I was a kid. I wonder where that is now.

    FYI, Ian, the Titan translations of the Prometheus novels are credited to Helga Parmiter. Keith just edited them.
     
  8. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    Ohh, much appreciated! Thank you.
     
  9. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I had and listened to a whole bunch of the abridged audios as a kid in the '90s, but I haven't listened to any of the recent unabridged ones. I have plenty of time to read myself, so I've haven't really been interested in audiobooks. If I ever reach a point where I want some entertainment, but can't watch TV or read myself I might check the newer ones out.
     
  10. Elwro

    Elwro Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I've listened to numerous (fantastic!) unabridged modern ST audiobooks and I've just gone through the abridged older audio versions of Reunion and Valiant. Both are condensed into a bit less than 3 hours each. The first one, being a tight confined-spaces criminal mystery, works fine. But the second comes off as a bit weird. I haven't read the original, but in the audio version the supposed Immensely Threatening Enemies are total pushovers: the only scenes with them left are those in which Picard easily makes short work of them. There seems also to be no scene in which some sort of contact would be established with them. So in the audiobook they exist only to appear and be shot down. I'm assuming the full book has more on them ;-) [Hopefully someone corrects me if that's not the case.]
     
  11. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    For me, the main reason for buying all the abridged audios as they came out was to own another new performance by a Star Trek actor. (I had their various LPs, autobiographies and other stuff.) I started to lose interest when Simon & Schuster Audio switched to using narrators from their wider, regular pool of professional voices (David Kaye, Anthony Stewart Head, Boyd Gaines, Joe Morton), who had never actually appeared in Trek.

    But getting Bibi Besch and Mark Lenard on abridged audios featuring Carol Marcus and Sarek was pretty cool!
     
  12. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, that was what drew me to. I also liked the fact that they had music and sound effects added, it made a lot more fun to listen to than it is when it's just the narrator reading.
     
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  13. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Commodore Commodore

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    I don’t listen to audiobooks that often, but when I do I prefer the abridged versions, since it’s more a time factor. I bought the CD’s for the 2009 “Star Trek” novelization when they came out, and to date I’ve only gotten through 3 CD’s out of what? 7 or 8 discs? And each disc is like 70-74 minutes. So that book is like 9 to 10 hours long. Whereas an older abridged book, like “Imzadi”, is anywhere from 90 minutes to 3 hours in length. A much more manageable amount of time.
     
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  14. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    I understand lots of people use unabridged audios when walking, exercising at the gym, on the train or when driving. I never have my act together for that. I don't drive, so a book serves its purpose on public transport. But abridged audios, I will listen to in one or two sessions, usually at home.
     
  15. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    When I was in grad school, and took the bus to campus, I would listen to audios on my iPod walking from my apartment to the bus, switch to reading a book on the bus, and then switch back to the iPod for walking from the bus stop to where my building was on campus. I burned through a lot!

    I do sympathize on the length thing. I'm listening to Big Finish's Bernice Summerfield audiobooks right now, and each is about seven hours long, which takes me over a week with the limited amount of commuting I do now. They just keep going!
     
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  16. Starbreaker

    Starbreaker Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I, probably to the chagrin of audiobook narrators, turn my audiobooks to about 1.5x speed when listening. I listen to them at work or in the car and I will drift off at the slow speed that they are normally read. That solves my time problem right there!
     
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  17. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    A friend does all his online learning that way. Speed Listener.
     
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  18. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Doesn't that make the narrator sound like the Chipmunks from Alvin and the Chipmunks?
     
  19. David cgc

    David cgc Admiral Premium Member

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    Nowadays, computers can compensate for that so the pitch remains normal no matter how much you fast-forward.
     
  20. Starbreaker

    Starbreaker Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    No. Not at all. And turning it back down to normal makes some narrators sound drunk.
     
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