Podcast Review #47: Peace Lord of the Red Planet

originally published September 20, 2010

Title: Peace Lord of the Red Planet
Author: Steven H. Wilson
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Released: 14 June 2010 – 12 September 2010
Located: iTunes, Podiobooks
Formats Available: Podcast, Dead Tree and electronic versions (Amazon)
Rating: R for sexual situations and violence

I wrote the following as an intro to Steven H. Wilson’s Taken Liberty back in Podcast Review 38:

Occasionally, I listen to a podcast for no apparent reason. This is one of those times. After having listened to the first couple of eps, I was interested enough to continue with it, but I’m not sure who recommended this story to me. If YOU did, please let me know and I’ll be sure to give you credit.

Well, the credit for that recommendation was my good friend Dan Sawyer, author of Down from Ten and the Antithesis Progression books. I like Dan and I think of him as one to push boundaries of mainstream thought and perception (what he thinks of himself in this respect, I have no idea). I didn’t really care for Taken Liberty, but not due to content, but rather lack of it. I wanted more backstory. I felt the characters were much to rich to not have got to know them better. So, when Dan recommended another book by Mr. Wilson, it was unnecessary to persuade me, as I was eager to see if the characters were able to grab me this time.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: Shepherd Autrey is a Quaker, a physician, and a man deeply disturbed by the madness around him as the War Between the tates bears down on his America in 1863. Dared by a friend to take an active role, Shep volunteers to provide humanitarian aid to the victims of Sherman’s scorched earth campaign in the Shenandoah Valley. There he runs foul of a Confederate recruiting drive and fi nds himself hanged by the neck from a tree. Awakening in a strange land which can’t possibly be earth, Shep is plunged into battle and saves the life of an alien warrior prince. Hailed by bloodthirsty killers as the bravest man alive, Shep combats his conscience, his fl agging faith, and an ever-growing number of people who want him dead.

Production: It is apparent that Mr. Wilson knows what he’s doing when it comes to putting together a podcast. There really is no need to worry on this account. All aspects of the production, audio quality, consistent use of musical themes, appropriate audio levels, etc. Now, I’ve said before, production is probably the area that I most easily give a pass on. However, I have recently realized that is simply because so many of the podcasts I listen to do a completely adequate job of production. (Stay tuned in weeks to come for an exception or two.)

Cast: The story was a straight read by the author, Steven H. Wilson. He does a nice job and does a good bit of differentiating the voices both with modulating his tone and inflection. Well done indeed when you figure a good number of his characters are women. I like straight reads, and this is a good example of one well done.

Story: Peace Lord of the Red Planet seemed to me to be a purposeful attempt to give the antithetical account of Edgar Rice Burroughs Princess of Mars Barsoom stories. In both cases we have an Earth man transported, at a moment of impending doom, to an alien world (Steven H Wilson’s Red Planet is purposefully explained to not be Mars, however.) Instead of a valiant fighter and lover however, we have for our hero, a Quaker.

Verdict: I have a feeling regardless of how I rate this one, I’ll have someone eventually disagree with me. Oh well, i’m up for it!

Okay, so the good: Mr. Wilson has really strung together an interesting mythos here. I enjoyed listening to Shep Autrey make one discovery after another while trying to reconcile his beliefs (which are diametrically opposed) to the inhabitants of the red planet. Although here is yet another example of placing your character in a new world to see him squirm (WHY am I hearing so many of these lately?) it is a good example.

The bad: Some of the things Shep holds to be repugnant and unable to be justified within the bounds of his belief system, he much to quickly comes to grips with. I found this to seriously detract from the story to some degree.

The observation: I found it interesting that Mr. Wilson did a very decent job in copying the writing style of Burroughs. Of course, this observation might be totally off the mark and something my fevered mind conjured up, but it made the story even more interesting to me.

And finally, the Verdict: I liked Peace Lord. It isn’t going to be for everyone. If you can’t take your Christian theology as a device to look at other possible mythos, then stay away. I have no problem reading/listening to a work of fiction without it threatening my belief system, so this didn’t really bother me. But again, I do suggest you use caution if you can be offended by fiction tampering with the Christian scriptures. If this doesn’t bother you, or perhaps you don’t subscribe to the Christian belief system to begin with, then you shouldn’t have a problem with most of this story. Give it a try. I’m glad I did.

As an aside, as I prepared to write this review, I realized there was an additional chapter and an epilogue from where I thought the story ended. Yes, I stopped at chapter 16, and when you hear chapter 16, you’ll understand that the story actually ends much differently than I originally thought. Even if it had ended at chapter 16, I would have written basically the same review, although I’m glad to have heard the rest.

Disclosure: I do not believe I know Mr. Wilson, or follow him on Twitter . I was not paid or asked to write this review, although after having listened to it, I am even more convinced that Dan Sawyer has a deviant mind. And of course, that isn’t always a bad thing.

~ by odin1eye on 9 January, 2020.

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