Generally, I don't listen to books on tape. My commute to work is short, so it would take close to a month for me to make it through an unabridged book and abridged books have no interest for me. I was, therefore, intrigued by the new series of SF tapes launched by Infinivox. Rather than issue abridgements of novels, they have decided to provide complete short stories on tape. Unabridged, I can listen to the entire story within a day or two, even with my short drive time.
"Slow Birds," by Ian Watson tells the story of a strangely idyllic world which is plagued by mysterious invaders. Dubbed slow birds, because the cylindrical objects fly at the rate of only a few feet per minute, the artifacts are a complete mystery. Jason Babbidge's life is inexorably changed and linked to the slow birds when his brother, Daniel, climbs aboard a slowbird shortly before it disappears into the unknown. Watson's story deals with Jason's quest for his brother and later the revelation which comes to him as he climbs aboard a slow bird of his own.
Watson spends a great deal of time laying the foundation for the story and for Jason Babbidge's character. Although each of the events follow from what Watson has described, the way Jason's character changes throughout the course of the story is handled very well, leaving the reader stunned.
Infinivox has selected a good story to help launch their line of tapes. My first encounter with Infinivox leads me to say that they have a product definitely worth listening to. The compactness of the story permits the listener to hear the entire tape in a short time and Infinivox seems to have made good selections in the stories they have chosen to record.