Sunday, June 19, 2011

S*it My Dad Says & The Stainless Steel Rat

What's at the end of the American dream rainbow? As Dan Simmons tells it in FLASHBACK--an epic and apocalyptic SF story--mainly a bunch of abandoned strip malls where bankrupted Americans take a drug that lets them relive the past, (when people still cared.)  Former Detective Bottoms has indeed reached bottom when he is hired by a rich, ruling class Japanese tycoon to reopen his son's murder case. What he discovers is more than anyone hooked on Flash should know.  Original and ironic, the story is told with evocative abandon by narrators Richard M. Davidson, Bryan Kennedy, and Joe Barrett. 

Phil Gigante has fun performing THE STAINLESS STEEL RAT, an offbeat science fiction pulp adventure featuring a morally ambivalent protagonist/thief named Slippery Jim DiGriz.  This long running SF series contains much first person dialogue, making it ideal for audio.  Satire is the driver here, not character development, and so with its focus on problem solving adventure, sustained by a sardonic twist of romance, it is a canvas for melodrama similar to the Golden Age stories of L. Ron Hubbard or the wise-cracking antics of Hans Solo in Star Wars.  Gigante capitalizes on his opportunity to summon this full range of emotions, his variations on accented English and German coming into humorous play during DiGriz's confrontations with robots and aliens.  An Audie Award Winner.

Imagine George Carlin reading material by Redd Foxx or Richard Pryor, and you'll be close to Sean Schemmel's interpretation of Justin Halpern's father in S*IT MY DAD SAYS.  It is perhaps wryly apt that the author of this short memoir, written in recollection of having to move back in with his dad after being dumped by his girlfriend at age 28, was contributer to a men's magazine.  Mr. Halpern the elder first became inspiration for Justin's popular Twitter posts--perfect medium for these terse, expletive-not-deleted observations made by a dad short on tact and inhibition.  As narrator, Sean Schemmel evokes Justin's chagrin in an arc that leads to guilty admiration, revealing the love they share beneath it all.

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