Story Time Reviews is a blog series that offers reviews of stories both read and read aloud. Today’s Story Time, Reviews Entanglement. Eris (Ruari McDonnell) is the author of Entanglement ©2017. Astra (Jordan Scherer) is the narrator. The story first aired on the Bad Astra podcast on Spotify, January 28, 2021. (Also available on Apple, and many other platforms.)
It first appeared on the Bad Astra YouTube channel on February 5, 2021. It is 24:12 minutes long.
This short story starts with an absolutely fascinating “what if” question in the narrator’s first line.
“Falling into a black hole is always a violent death, but the pain levels vary.”
The narrator discusses the pain levels possible depending upon the size of the black hole and how fast you fall victim to spagettification. Spagettification is a word coined by Stephen Hawking as a joke, but now is an official term, she says. She tells us that in 2384, a witness saw a person sucked into a black hole. And gives us basic information about black holes, particularly entangled black holes.
Then the narrator tells us she “is essentially, a disembodied consciousness at the mercy of her new home, in an entangled set of black holes.”
The Story Develops
We learn our narrator was an astrobiologist searching for intelligent life outside of humanity with her co-worker/employees. One night she gets talked into taking a night off to a karaoke bar with her co-workers. After a few too many drinks, a singularly beautiful woman walks in and the astrobiologist is smitten. She slurs through a pickup line which the beauty says was “really, really bad.” Still, there aren’t many people to talk to, so they talk. Just as the astrobiologist believes she is going to be invited to the young woman’s room, she blacks out. When she wakes, she thinks the pain she feels is from a hangover.
I won’t tell you anymore about the story so as not to spoil your enjoyment should you listen to it. There’s nothing ground breaking about the plot. But I will tell you it kept my attention all the way through, even when “editor-me” noticed an anachronism or two.
Ruari McDonnell is a self-described “narcissist” who does not have a website. I found this photograph and a short bio on LinkedIn.
“I’m a writer with an absurdist sense of humor steeped in existential dread, but in the best way. My background in theater and film has resulted in an intimate understanding of production and engaging script development. While my parents ruined my dreams of being an astronaut, I’ve channeled my passion for STEM into my science communication career path and into the foundation of Bad Astra. I graduated DePaul University summa cum laude with a BA in English, so I am certifiably literate. I’m happy to chat about writing, content development, and baking. Let me tell your story.”
The Voice Talent
Jordan Scherer (she/her) has an engaging voice with a nice range of tones and inflections. It’s the type of voice talent that allows you to immerse yourself in the story.
On ACX Ms. Scherer describes herself as “just a queer engineer living the dream in Chicago and moonlighting as a voice actress.” (Her photo is also from LinkedIn.)
“Bad Astra is a science comedy YouTube series which makes astronomy, physics, more accessible for adults through comedy, simple explanations, and more costume changes than math.”
“As Astra, the host, I research interesting scientific topics, co-write scripts with my business partner, film and perform those scripts, and edit videos for a YouTube audience. I also interview scientists about their research, with a focus on promoting representation of women and BIPOC scientists.”from LinkedIn
On ACX her credits include: Women of Resistance (Audiobook-Poetry), The Revolution Bell (In Production; Audiobook-Poetry), Falling Gracefully (Audiobook-Romance), Amelia Earhart and Her Life (Audiobook-Kids), The Dancer series (Audiobook-Fantasy), Jolly Jokes for Kids series, books 1-10 (Audiobook-Kids), Billy Bear Runs Away (Audiobook-Kids), The German Girl (Audiobook-Kids), Magic and Fantasy (Audiobook-Kids), BCC (Audiobook-Romance), and The Kitten Who Didn’t Know How to Meow (Audiobook-Kids).
I loved this story. The point of view character’s voice is authentic, conversational, and relatable. She wonders if one of her coworker’s “goal in life was to fulfill all the classic space nerd stereotypes.” She finds fault in the karaoke bar’s name while admitting she understands that the bar’s name is a play on words and she doesn’t like bars. Her idea of a good time is “reading essays on quantum mechanics or Sudoku.”
The author uses some great metaphors with strong story-themed words. Words like: “eyes like a solar prominence,” and a “cacophony of what sounded like a spacecraft being crushed by an intense gravitational field.”
The story made me laugh out loud several times. It’s a full-circle story that this listener found satisfying. If you like science fiction, appreciate some snark, and actual science in your fiction, you’ll like this story.
I’ve already said it, but it bears repeating. I love this story. It’s layered, has a few twists, and is a complete story. Could it be improved? Perhaps, but you don’t need perfection when the character, the plot, the narrator voice, and the scientific information all blend into an engaging story.
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Top image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay