Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Alchemist and Executioness

by Paulo Bacigalupi and Tobias Buckell

I cannot believe that the Once Upon A Time Challenge is almost over. Although I have not been posting, I have been reading. The first book I "read" for the challenge was actually an original audio book produced by I so enjoyed the Windup Girl by Paulo Bachigalupi that when I read about this new project involving Bacigalupi created just for audio, I thought I would give it a try, especially as it was fantasy and perfect for this challenge. I had read a really interesting interview by the two authors about how they created this work but I cannot find it at the moment. Essentially it is two separate short stories but both set in the same fantasy world. Khaim is a world where magic was once widely used but unfortunately with every use deadly bramble is created. Magic is now banned and punishable by death as the citizens try to battle the bramble back before it swallows the last of the cities.

In the Alchemist by Bacigalupi an alchemist has dedicated his life to creating a machine, the balanthast, which can destroy bramble. He works in secret because his experiments require he bring bramble into the city and for fear his alchemy might be mistaken for magic.

In the Executioness Buckell tells the story of a women who is forced to take her father's place as an executioner and sets off on an adventure to save her children kidnapped by raiders.

These two stories are far more traditional fantasy then I usually read but I enjoyed them both. I also found it an interesting project as there is not a lot of works created specifically for audio. I do note however that it appears that limited editions of these stories have since been published as books by Subterranean Press, although I strongly recommend you try them as they were intended as audio. Both the audio narrators of these stories were wonderful.

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