For me lately, finding a new bit of podcast fiction to enjoy comes more from recommendations than from actively searching. That’s certainly true for Tincture. Nathaniel Rich recommended it to me and when I saw that it involved a post-apocalypse with a wild west flair I was sold.
Synopsis: Grave robbing requires a corpse, so at most, this was all just simple thievery.
Rhamuel and the last of his family, Abranyah, travel their barren world, shack to shack, selling tinctures to keep a full belly and evading the dogmatists to keep their throats safe. Time turned funny after The Whatever, an apocalyptic event that few remember and even fewer can explain, danger now as commonplace as the unrecognizable relics of war, and the madman Aphulan – along with an iron rule over his small township – may hold the answers. With a cure for The Sick and a duty to protect their family, Rhamuel and Abranyah set off on a journey to the “other place,” the days before The Whatever, and ready themselves for a glimpse into what happened, and what was always meant to happen next.
Production: The audio quality is very good. The music complements the story and I do believe some use was made of reverb and the like.
Cast: This is read by the author. He does an excellent job, using inflection and tone change to good purpose.
Story: I wasn’t disappointed. The writing was very good. The thing that struck me most, though, was the world building he did. The use of language and description painted a world that was just different enough from our own in every sense to be unsettling but familiar. It’s never certain exactly what caused the Whatever, but that’s okay. He borrows some from Stephen King (more on that in a second) and much like King’s Dark Tower the why of it isn’t as important as how drastic the change is.
This isn’t fan fiction. None of the characters or situations borrow directly from King’s work. Still, it’s evident that the author loves the series (at least the first book anyway). And he does something I’ve very rarely seen in fiction. The book, The Gunslinger, is real in this fictional world and is treated by at least one character as being a biography of sorts. So, it’s more than a product placement. I hope to be talking to Matthew soon (and perhaps have him on a podcast) to talk about what inspired this.
You guys know by now that to me character is vital. That’s one aspect that makes this a win for me. All of the characters are interesting and well rounded (as well rounded as I suppose amnesiacs can be). Even the villain, while deliciously evil and psychotic, is three dimensional.
This book also does something that I often see used as a device that may or may not work. The interstitial book within a book. It quotes extensively from a sort of travel guide. It’s a good way of giving information out about the world without being info-dumpy. In this case it worked for me. Even the editing notes on the pseudo-guide are interesting and informative.
The only thing that I’m a little sketchy about is the ending. The nature of Rhamuel and Aphulan is revealed. I won’t spoil it here. Suffice to say that it seemed a little, strange. Not a good strange. Not a bad strange either, really. It’s something that I hope gets talked about more in book two (which I’m currently listening to).
Verdict: In case it’s not obvious, I thoroughly enjoyed this podcast novel. It’s one of those cases where I plan on buying the e-book and perhaps even reading it. It’s also one that I would consider listening to more than once.