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AUDIO REVIEW: Waiting Death by Steve Lyons

REVIEW SUMMARY: An excellent audio production of an outstanding military sf story.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Colonel ‘Iron Hand’ Straken and his regiment of Catachan soldiers seek refuge in a jungle village, only to find a new battle awaits them.

I’m really enjoying the series of Warhammer 40K audio dramas that Black Library is publishing, first with Nick Kyme’s Thunder From Fenris, then with Gav Thorpe’s Raven’s Flight, and now with Steve Lyons’ Waiting Death. Each story is unapologetic military science fiction action as would be expected, but each story also offers something above and beyond standard fare.

In Waiting Death, Colonel ‘Iron Hand’ Straken and his regiment of Catachan soldiers, having become separated from friendly Imperium forces in the middle of an intense campaign on Borealis Four, seek refuge in a small village they find in the middle of the jungle. While the village appears peaceful, it is not long before the soldiers find a new battle to fight; not from the Cultists that are the target of their military campaign, but from a band of heretofore unseen mutants that have set their sights on the village.

The military aspect of this story is clearly laid out in the plot, so it’s no surprise that there’s lots of action to satisfy mil-sf fans. Lyons takes advantage of every opportunity to keep the adrenaline rush going once the lead starts flying. Where the story goes the extra distance is in creating additional components of conflict that flesh out the characters and the story itself. Colonel Straken, for example, has serious differences of opinion with a general who’s a superior officer but an outsider…and a pampered one at that. Also, some of Straken’s men seem to suffer from delusions and attack their fellow soldiers. And that’s before the mutants show up. Thus the soldiers must fight enemies from without and friends from within. Lyons throttles the story from one tense situation to the next, relentlessly pushing to a satisfying plot twist.

Like the previous audio dramas, Waiting Death is augmented by sound effects and music, making it stand out from standard audiobooks that only present someone reading the text. Here, Toby Longworth delivers the narrative with well-placed, confident bravado, as if the action we hear in the background is fueling his performance like it does our imaginations. The end result is another top-notch action story that will thrill listeners.

Running Time: 61 minutes

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.
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