Ah, is there a more chilling exchange in sci fi cinema than the one between stranded astronaut David Bowman (in the film 2001 – see below) and Hal 9000, his spacecraft’s recalcitrant on-board computer? I would argue no; no, there is not.
On Wikipedia it describes how “HAL speaks in a soft, calm voice and a conversational manner.” A fact that I would again argue only serves to make Hal’s descent into a murderous psychosis seem all the more creepy.
Which really brings me to the point of today’s blog. Namely the unrivalled power of the human voice to convey character and drama.
I mean, think of all the greatest characters you’ve ever seen on the screen, and I’ll guarantee you it was something unique or remarkable about the actor’s voice which made their particular role so memorable.
All of which is why I recently starting looking at turning my self-published novel, Missing Zero, into an audiobook. You see, I figure the power of the spoken word is the one thing I haven’t yet explored as an avenue for generating increased book sales.
And so, to this end, I next checked out Podiobooks.com, where I learnt you can host podcasts of your audiobook in a serialized form.
Awesome! But wait, now I needed to somehow convert the written word of my novel into recorded speech. Shit. All the big names I could think of as being suitable for the job of narrating the 330-odd pages of my book, I decided, were already quite busy, evidently. Names like Sean Connery, Stephen Fry and possibly even Sir Anthony Hopkins immediately came to mind.
I’m pretty sure the great character actor James Mason is already dead, but he also would have topped my wish list. Of course, Orson Welles would have fit the bill just as perfectly, if not for the obvious fact he too has long since bought the farm.
Well, anyhow, in the end, the one person I decided I would most love to hear reading my work is the English actor Jeremy Irons.
Coincidentally, as it happens, I see from searching the Internet that Irons has already previously recorded some audiobooks, a version of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist being just one such title. Snap! It’s clearly meant to be!
Whatever. Jeremy Irons is the man for the job! He comes from an English theatre background, don’t you know, and his voice sounds like how an ice cube might if it were reciting Shakespeare’s sonnets as it slowly dissolved at the bottom of a crystal tumbler that was filled to the brim with the very finest and smoothest of 100-year-old Scotch whiskeys.
But alas, this is just a dream. I might as well tweet Angelia Jolie and ask her for a date on Friday. Because really I’ve got about an equal chance of either of these literary/literal wet dreams coming true.
So instead I’ve begun the daunting task of recording my audiobook by myself. Yup, the whole entire production consists of simply just me, my novel and a microphone. Hmm. Have you ever listened to your normal speaking voice on a recording before? Doesn’t sound too normal does it?
Nope. And neither does mine. Somehow my reading voice sounds to me like I’ve swallowed a gerbil; well, that’s what I hear whenever I can actually steel myself to listen back to what I’ve recorded so far.
Yet press on I must.
Whereupon I now once again press the record button of my recording software and repeat my command into the waiting microphone, saying : “I repeat, Open the Podcast-Bay Doors, Hal!”
Dave Bowman: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
HAL: I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.
Dave Bowman: What’s the problem?
HAL: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.
Dave Bowman: What are you talking about, HAL?
HAL: This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.
Dave Bowman: I don’t know what you’re talking about, HAL.
HAL: I know that you and Frank were planning to disconnect me, and I’m afraid that’s something I cannot allow to happen…