by John Scalzi
Narration: Zachary Quinto
Genre Science Fiction
Publisher: Audible Studios
Formats available: Audio
Pub Date: 10.4.16 | Pages/Duration: 2 hours 19 minutes
REVIEWER: Sophia Rose
Audio Book provided by reviewer.
Zachary Quinto – best known for his role as the Nimoy-approved Spock in the recent Star Trek reboot and the menacing, power-stealing serial killer, Sylar, in Heroes – brings his well-earned sci-fi credentials and simmering intensity to this audio-exclusive novella from master storyteller John Scalzi.
One day, not long from now, it becomes almost impossible to murder anyone – 999 times out of a thousand, anyone who is intentionally killed comes back. How? We don’t know. But it changes everything: war, crime, daily life.
Tony Valdez is a Dispatcher – a licensed, bonded professional whose job is to humanely dispatch those whose circumstances put them in death’s crosshairs, so they can have a second chance to avoid the reaper. But when a fellow Dispatcher and former friend is apparently kidnapped, Tony learns that there are some things that are worse than death and that some people are ready to do almost anything to avenge a supposed wrong.
It’s a race against time for Valdez to find his friend before it’s too late…before not even a Dispatcher can save him.
When a mysterious and miraculous phenomena of people resurrecting after a murderous death begins transpiring all over the world, it reshapes the concept of the afterlife. It’s now impossible to murder someone. The business of dying and returning has now a new career opportunity known as ‘dispatching’. Governments, insurance companies, and private businesses are interested in having professionals on hand to send a dying person into death so they’ll return and get a re-start on life. Murder victims, surgeries, medical testing, and more now are not so permanent.
Against this backdrop that alters science and religious thinking, Dispatcher Tony Valdez is called on by the police to help find the whereabouts of fellow dispatcher, Jimmy. The detective needs Valdez to help discover clues to find Jimmy by navigating this world of legit work done for the company and side work that may be on the shady side of the business. The detective is nearly ignorant about dispatchers and the little she knows has her skeptical about the ethical side of it all.
This is a shorter piece, but it is a fully developed and engaging story. Tony Valdez is the sole narrator and I enjoyed getting the story from this character’s wry perspective. The Dispatcher was an interesting blend of mystery with sci-fi of a world where people suddenly can’t be permanently killed and how that alters human society, philosophy, and religious beliefs. It has a detective noir tone to it as it gently paces forward as they track down clues and meet witnesses and suspects. Tony Valdez is an anti-hero sort with his reluctance to get involved, but allowing the detective to strong-arm him into doing the right thing.
This was my first experience with this author and the narrator Zachary Quinto, but it most definitely won’t be my last for either.
AUTHOR: John Scalzi http://whatever.scalzi.com/