With the world of video exploding, it’s exciting to see that the audio drama format is still alive and well. After a nearly three year hiatus, the cast and crew of the USS Montana have returned for an entirely new episode, Cathedral in the Void, available from the Continuing Mission Website.
During it’s initial “season” of six episodes released between the winter of 2007 and the fall of 2009, the series amassed a listenership of tens of thousands, garnering critical acclaim and reviewed on CNN. We had even named it, “Audio Drama of the Year,” in 2008.
Series producer Sebastian Prooth is proud of the series use of a ship and storyline set outside of the established series canon, but still able to weave it into the same universe. The story follows the adventures of a Federation crew plucked out of the 23rd century (from around the time of the events in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn) and re-emerging in the 24th, just prior to the beginning of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
“The benefits of working in an audio format is that we’ve been able to utilize technology to bring together talented actors from around the world without having to physically bring them together,” said Prooth.
The bulk of the original audio was completed back in 2011, with only a few characters’ dialogue remaining. Finally, it was an offer by Canadian fan and audio engineer, Matheiu Blondin, to help assemble the episode that restarted the momentum. That addition to the team, in tandem with Prooth’s desire to rejuvenate the series for an audience of today. This new episode summons up the creations of HP Lovecraft, the father of modern horror, who consigned his unspeakable creations to the farthest reaches of the final frontier. Most call them aliens. Some know them as the Elder Gods. In the time before time, they ruled the Earth. Now, the only thing that can stop their return is Captain Edwards and the crew of the USS Montana.
The episode is well paced and is immersive as an audio experience, and easy to listen to (many effect-laden audio dramas become cluttered, which isn’t the case with Cathedral. The actor’s performances are solid and not over the top. The cast is headlined by Captain Paul Edwards (Scott Martineck), Commander Darius Locke (Stephen Perkins), Lt. Commander Jack McGuire (Patrick McCray), and Lt. Commander Thomas Plummer (Nathan Wolfenbarger).
This new episode is in part an experiment to see if there’s still an audience for Star Trek in an audio drama format. They have already been drafting ideas for future episodes, but before they proceed they want to see what number of listens this episode receives.
Personally I’m a big fan of listening to audio format fiction, as I use them to pass the time on the daily work commute. Full format audio plays however have become too rare, with World War Z having been an interesting hybrid between a full cast and straight audiobook. It’s refreshing to see something in the tradition of the classic Orson Wells broadcast of the War of the Worlds being created anew today.