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Doc Savage: Python Isle
Will Murray
Narrated by Michael McConnohie, unabridged
Radio, 8 hours

Doc Savage: Python Isle
Will Murray
Will Murray is the literary agent for the estate of Lester Dent, and the author of over 50 novels, including several posthumous Doc Savage collaborations with series originator Lester Dent, among them Python Isle, White Eyes, and his latest novel Desert Demons.

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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven Brandt

Python Isle is a small, uncharted island somewhere between Australia and Africa. Its inhabitants are the direct descendants of King Solomon, trapped here for many centuries, and effectively cut off from the world by the savage storms which encircle the island. Here they remain, faithfully guarding Solomon's vast treasure. It was only a matter of time before their peaceful existence was disturbed.

In the year 1927, Australian aviator Tom Franklin set out to be the first man to fly non-stop from his home to the African mainland. Along the way, however, Franklin encountered severe storms, and ended up crash-landing on Python Isle. From the air, the island looks very much like a coiled snake. For seven years, Franklin was trapped on Python Isle, until finally managing to repair his airplane. Now that he can leave, he has every intention of keeping the island's secrets, but only until he can return with some hired help to steal Solomon's treasure for himself.

But Franklin made one very big mistake. During his seven years on the island, he spoke of a golden-skinned hero, a man of bronze, who made it his business to help people in trouble. Queen Lha, in order to save the treasure and her people from the outside world, knows that she will need the help of this extraordinary man. Somehow, she must reach, and enlist the aid of, Doc Savage!

Before there was a man of steel, there was the man of bronze; before there was a Dark Knight, there was a golden-skinned man of mystery -- Doc Savage! Trained from early childhood to strengthen his mind and body, Doc travels the globe with his five companions, righting wrongs, and bringing justice to the unjust.

Lester Dent's first Doc Savage story was published in 1933, pre-dating Superman by five years and Batman by six. I have to assume that Batman creator Bob Kane was influenced by Dent's character. Just like Doc Savage, Batman trained his body and mind from a very early age, becoming a nearly perfect crime fighting machine. Batman's utility belt may also have had its origin in Doc's many-pocketed utility vest, where he kept various devices and gadgets to aid his mission. And for you Superman fans out there, Doc Savage had a fortress of solitude in the Arctic, when the Man of Steel was still just a gleam in Joe Shuster's eye.

In 1934, Lester Dent wrote an outline for a story called Python Isle, which would have been the 21st book in the Doc Savage series. Street & Smith rejected the outline because previous stories involving snakes were not well received by the readers. Python Isle was filed away and forgotten until 1978, nearly twenty years after Dent's death. It was Will Murray who discovered the outline in Dent's files and immediately recognized it for what it was -- a lost piece of Doc Savage history. With the permission of Dent's widow, Murray brought the story to life, and gave it to Bantam Books, who was, at the time, re-publishing the entire run of Doc Savage books. Bantam accepted Python Isle, but opted to hold onto it until they finished the current run. They eventually published it in 1990, making it the first new Doc Savage story since 1949.

Now, Doc Savage is conquering the audiobook world in Python Isle, the first Doc Savage story to be produced in an audio format. Radio Archives has taken the well-traveled hero and brought him to life in this amazingly high-quality production. Michael McConnohie lends his voice talent to this adventure. His narration comes through the center channel as usual, but his character voices come from the left or right, putting the listener right in the middle of the action. I've heard this production method once before, and I like it a lot. McConnohie's melodramatic voices are perfect for this recording as well, giving it kind of an old-time radio feel.

Also included in this recording are two brief interviews with the author, Will Murray. In the first, Murray discusses the origin of Doc Savage in the early 30s and other pulp heroes of the era, such as The Shadow. In the second interview, Murray talks about Python Isle specifically, filling us in on how he discovered the lost story idea, and the process by which it became a published work. These interviews were interesting and, even better, are not long and drawn out.

Doc Savage is one more pulp fiction hero revived with modern technology. I'm liking this trend in audiobooks and I hope Radio Archives will bring us many more Doc Savage stories.

Copyright © 2011 Steven Brandt

Steven Brandt spends most of his waking hours listening to audiobooks and reviewing them for his blog, Audiobook Heaven. When not reading or reviewing, Steven is usually playing the saxophone for the entertainment and amusement of his family.

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