Audible

So, if not thinking about and playing D&D, what am I doing with my free time these days?  Well, for starters, I spend a lot of time in the car.  On a good day, my commute is a little over an hour.  Actually in the middle of the night or a holiday that I don’t have off, it can be done in 50 minutes.  More typically it takes about 1:15, though much of it is on the Massachusetts Turnpike on which there are an alarming number of accidents, which in turn can bump my commute time up to an hour and a half.  Once it took me two hours.

One thing I’ve found that makes it endurable is audio books.  I ended up getting myself a subscription to Audible, despite my anti-DRM tendencies it seems they are the only really good source of audio books.  (Side note: a pretty good free alternative is Librivox, though it does take a bit more time to navigate and research to find stuff there you like.)  I listened to all the Game of Thrones books this way.  I’ve also listened to Tolkien, and several other one-off works of historical fiction.  Recently I’ve been listening to Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles.

The funny thing about listening to books rather than reading them is hearing character names spoken aloud.  I had no idea for a long time that George R. R. Martin used so many y’s and other odd spellings in his names.  In fact, I didn’t find out until in one of the books the reader started pronouncing one of the names differently: Petyr.  In the earlier books the reader pronounced it “Puh-tire”, then later reverted to the more traditional pronunciation of “Peter”.  Actually this highlights a personal pet peeve of mine — why on earth do so many fantasy writers feel the need to be overly clever with their names, and worse still choose names that are visually appealing without bothering to think about how people will say them out loud?  I understand that Robert E. Howard used to speak a lot of his work out loud while writing.  I think more writers could do with a dose of that.

So the same thing happened in the Rothfuss books I’ve been listening to.  A character in the first book named Devi was pronounced “Deh-vee” and in the second book is pronounced “Day-vee”.  Part of me really rebels against the latter due to it sounding like a guy’s name, specifically a common youthful shortening of the name David.  Ultimately though, I think that after listening to name spoken aloud for tens of hours, I simply get attached to it, and changing that just rubs me the wrong way.

I wouldn’t be surprised if in both cases it was a matter of the author not taking the time to review the audio work himself and being told by someone in the know afterwards that one of the names was pronounced incorrectly, and then that author correcting the recording company in future work.  I guess I understand where the author is coming from, but I kind of feel like once the mistake is made it’s better to just push forward and live with it than bull-headedly fix it.  Consider it this way — if you were watching a play or a TV show and one of the actors suddenly started pronouncing his name differently, wouldn’t that totally throw you?

Also, the better audio book readers make up voices and accents for particular characters.  I’ve never encountered a case where that changed.  I assume most authors simply chalk that up to the right of an actor to add interpretation to the part.  Can’t we simply allow that some readers might pronounce a name one way and others another and be OK with that?

Well, that’s what was spinning through my head on the way into work this morning.  Also, despite my best intentions to return to this blog regularly it’s been almost two weeks since my last post.  Hopefully though once I get back into the knack of posting regularly I will find something of more substance to write about.

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5 Comments

  1. Recently I’ve been re-reading to comic “Crisis on Infinite Earths”. (I actually don’t think it’s very good, but here it is on my shelf.) The Anti-Monitor, scourge and destroyer of all universes, has a chief emotion-controlling henchman: The Psycho-Pirate. For the life of me, I can’t imagine how someone could say something like, “Psycho-Pirate, you have failed me for the last time!” without bursting out in laughter.

  2. I’m sorry, the very idea of someone doing an audio recording of a comic book is itself hilarious. I could just hear it:

    “And in the next panel, Spider Man is looking very surprised and there are a bunch of lightning bolts coming out of his head… oh wait, I see, that’s to indicate that his spidey-sense is tingling…”

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