Doc Savage Audiobook
Written by Will Murray, Based on a Concept by Lester Dent
Read by Michael McConnohie
For over eighty years, the name Doc Savage has meant thrills and excitement to millions of readers worldwide. Now, for the very first time, the Man of Bronze comes to vivid life in Python Isle, the first audiobook adventure from RadioArchives.com.
In Python Isle, a long-lost pioneer flyer returns to civilization accompanied by an exotic woman who speaks in a lost tongue. From his towering skyscraper headquarters in New York, through a dangerous Zeppelin journey to Cape Town, climaxing on a serpent-haunted island in the forbidden reaches of the Indian Ocean, Doc Savage and his iron comrades race to untangle a weird puzzle so deep that the only clues can be found in the Bible!
Written by Will Murray and produced and directed by Roger Rittner, Python Isle features dramatic narration by Michael McConnohie, cover art by Joe DeVito, and two exclusive interviews with Will Murray on the history of Doc Savage and the discovery of author Lester Dent's long lost manuscripts.
Lester Dent and the History of "Python Isle"
Written by Will Murray
In the spring of 1934, author Lester Dent was drowning in deadlines. For Street & Smith, Dent had completed his 20th Doc Savage novel. These were appearing in Doc Savage Magazine every month under the house pseudonym of Kenneth Robeson. Simultaneously, he was scripting the Doc Savage radio program for Don Lee's Golden West network. Over the airwaves, he was plain Lester Dent.
The greatest adventure hero of his time, Doc Savage was no lone wolf explorer. He had five wartime friends who joined him in his globe-spanning exploits. One hero. Six leads. It was a lot of work cramming them into every story.
On radio, Dent kept the cast pared it down to Doc and his chief sidekick, the colorful Monk Mayfair. It worked just fine.
Maybe that's where Dent got the idea to leave some of his aides out of a select number of stories. It started with "Death in Silver". Only, Doc, Monk and Ham Brooks participated. 'Kenneth Robeson' explained that the other three were scatted about the world, pursuing their rough-and-tumble vocations.
Lester always plotted his novels one, two or three ahead. He was considering a story starring the absent mechanical engineer Renny Renwick, provisionally titled "Lost Island."
His editor approved the general concept and Lester sat down to outline it. He was dumbfounded when the outline was bounced back to him as unacceptable
The reason? "Python Isle", as he finally called it, involved snakes, and reader reaction to similar stories had convinced Street & Smith to make serpent-themed tales taboo. The offending stories had been written by a young pulp writer and amateur herpetologist named Richard Sale. He later went on to Hollywood fame, scripting the suspense film "Suddenly" and creating the TV Western "Yancy Derringer". But, in 1934, he was poised to ghost Doc Savage for Lester Dent. His first project? "Python Isle"!
Disappointed, Lester moved on to his next Doc Savage idea. Richard Sale never did write Doc.
The "Python Isle" outline gathered dust in Lester Dent's files long after the cancellation of Doc Savage in 1949, and his own passing ten years later. I discovered it in October of 1978 while visiting Lester's widow, Norma, and almost immediately recognized it as the skeleton to a lost Doc Savage adventure.
It was an audacious idea to attempt to flesh out the eleven-page outline into the first new Doc adventure since 1949. I had been reading Doc for less than a decade, having discovered him through a Bantam Books reprint of "Dust of Death" in 1969. Like many 15 year olds before me, I was hooked.
Now I was 28 - the same age Lester had been when he wrote his first Doc Savage story. Mrs. Dent agreed to let me try. So I pounded out the regulation 200 plus pages, signing it 'Kenneth Robeson'. It was my first novel. The year was 1980.
Bantam Books read it and was interested but, ultimately, they decided to hold onto it until they ran out of original Docs to reprint.
Eleven years later in 1990, they did. "Python Isle" was printed with a gorgeous Joe DeVito cover - the same image that graces this first Radio Archives audiobook. Twenty years have passed and Joe and I, not to mention Lester Dent, are reunited in a new series, "The Wild Adventures of Doc Savage", from Altus Press.
Doc Savage is rapidly becoming a Solar Myth - the bronze-skinned golden-eyed immortal hero who can never die. Now he's starring in his first audiobook and I can't say how delighted I am to have authored it.
There wouldn't be a "Python Isle" audiobook if it were not for the success of "The Adventures of Doc Savage", which Radio Archives released in 2010 on the 25th anniversary of the original National Public Radio broadcasts. Producer-director Roger Rittner and I considered a number of excellent voice actors to read this historic first Doc audio release. We both thought it would be wonderful if one of the talents who worked on the original Doc radio show could narrate this novel.
Happily, Michael McConnohie turned in a splendid chameleon-like job of bringing "Python Isle" to life. Listening to words you wrote years before can bring out the self-critic in a novelist. I can tell you that I fell into that trap only to have Michael's steady, compelling voice transport me out of myself and back to 1934 and the always-absorbing world of the mighty Man of Bronze.
At the end of "Death in Silver", Lester Dent drafted a blurb for the next adventure of his seminal superman - the one he never got to write. What Dent wrote sets up the story of "Python Isle" so perfectly that it cannot be improved upon. So I will quote it in full:
Doc and his men were relaxed, unconcerned, now that the trouble was over. They were accustomed to this sort of thing. They had been through it before.
They would go through it again, too--as much and more. Within the month, a fantastic, perilous series of adventures would befall them, although they had no way of foreseeing that.
Renny--Colonel John Renwick, the engineer who was now in South Africa--would be first to come in contact with the grisly mystery of Python Isle. A man would come out of the jungle, a wasted, stumbling bundle of bones. He spoke to Renny. And the instant Renny heard that voice, he was condemned to mysterious death.
For the words the man whispered had to do with a fantastic secret, a secret that was not of Africa, but of an incredible place in the vastness south of the Indian Ocean. It was of Python Isle that he spoke, and of the unholy thing to be found there, a thing which no man understood; he spoke of a treasure, too, a treasure for which men killed and themselves, died.
He wore weird garments, this man who came to Renny; he was a white man, yet his speech was strange. But most ghastly of all was the thing that was wrong with him--the spell wrought by the sorcery of Python Isle.
And because that strange fellow spoke to Renny, death was to strike, not only at Renny, but at Doc Savage, distant half around the world, in New York City.
Are you hooked? I thought you would be...
The Critics Love "Python Isle"!
Vic Sage - "The Retroist"
"'Python Isle' is superbly narrated and acted by Michael McConnohie and produced and directed by Roger Rittner. Please believe me when I say this: This is what all radio plays and audiobooks should strive to sound like!"
Barry Reese - "Reviews from the 86th Floor"
"Production values are top notch and the narrator, Michael McConnohie, does a fine job with story, capturing the essence of each character. Well worth your money! I give it 5 stars out of 5."
Tim Cundle - "Mass Movement Magazine"
"It's an incredible tale of an ancient tribe of Solomon, a queen and a sorcerer locked in political struggle, pirates, New York gangsters, undiscovered Islands, lost explorers, hijacked zeppelins and much, much, much more. Michael McConnohie narration is nothing short of breath taking, capturing Dent and Murray's frantic pacing perfectly whilst bringing each and every character to glorious life. "Python Isle" is an astonishing accomplishment that I can't recommend highly enough. Brilliant. Just...Brilliant."
Steven Brandt - "Audiobook Heaven" and "SF Site"
"Doc Savage is conquering the audiobook world in 'Python Isle', the first Doc Savage story to be produced in an audio format. Radio Archives has taken the well-traveled hero, and brought him to life in this amazingly high-quality production. Michael McConnohie lends his voice talent to this adventure. His narration comes through the center channel as usual, but his character voices come from the left or right, putting the listener right in the middle of the action. McConnohie's melodramatic voices are perfect for this recording as well, giving it kind of an old-time radio feel."
Timothy Knight - "Hero Press"
"'Python Isle' is classic Doc Savage brought to life by the authentic tones of McConnohie, who does a superb job of individualizing the voices of the characters without rendering them incomprehensible. Directed by Roger Rittner, the sound quality, effects and music are perfectly blended to complement the story without being obtrusive and help conjure the pulp 1930s of Doc Savage as he journeys from his New York base to an isolated, storm-enshrouded island in the Indian Ocean."
Penny Kenny - "Comics Bulletin"
"The skillful use of language and vocabulary is one of the delights of the story, and narrator Michael McConnohie's smooth, rich voice is more than up to the task of bringing it to life for the listener. Without overdoing it, McConnohie brings out the humor in lines that could easily be glided over, and he creates tension simply by the way he reads a passage. I don't think I'll ever be able to read a Doc Savage book again without hearing McConnohie's interpretation in my head. If you're looking for a fun action-adventure story, or if you want to try some of the original pulp fiction, you need to give the 'Python Isle' audiobook a try."
Tommy Hancock - "All Pulp"
"From fist fights and gun battles to harrowing chases in various locales all the way to a ride and epic conflict aboard a Zeppelin, 'Python Isle' delivers all the thrills and chills anyone could want. With material like this, one would think that it would be difficult for an audiobook version to add anything at all to it. Boy, one would be wrong. 'Python Isle' from Radio Archives takes this story from the pinnacle it already reaches in prose to an unbelievable high mark as an audiobook. Michael McConnohie is more than the 'reader' or 'narrator' of this adventure. He brings the exact intensity and passion to this story that any well crafted Doc tale would command. McConnohie makes this feel like a full cast audio drama and that brings the listener completely into the folds of the story. It was nail biting, cliff hanging, and inspiring."
Will Murray is the author of over 60 novels in popular series ranging from The Destroyer to Mars Attacks. Collaborating posthumously with the legendary Lester Dent, he has written to date numerous Doc Savage novels, with Skull Island, Death’s Dark Domain, Desert Demons, Horror in Gold, and The Ice Genius among those now available. For National Public Radio, Murray adapted The Thousand-Headed Man for The Adventures of Doc Savage in 1985, and recently edited Doc Savage: The Lost Radio Scripts of Lester Dent for Moonstone Books. He is versed in all things pulp.
Roger Rittner has written, produced, and directed audio drama specials and multi-part series, including the drama series Darkness, the mystery/macabre series Midnight, The Adventures of Doc Savage, the Western musical comedy Rhythm Rides the Range, and the musical special Charlie Sent Me! His radio projects have been heard on National Public Radio, as well as stations KMPC, KFI, KCSN, and KGBS in Los Angeles. Roger created and directed The Variety Arts Radio Theatre, live recreations of classic radio drama, for 10 years at the Variety Arts Center in Los Angeles. In addition to producing audiobooks for RadioArchives.com, Roger produces his series of audio versions of classic pulp short stories, Pulp Radio. In his off-hours, his company, Roger Rittner Productions, creates marketing and promotional audios and videos for corporate clients.
Michael McConnohie began reading at a very early age and developed a lifelong relationship with the written and spoken word. As an actor, he has appeared in soap operas, cartoons, prime-time TV, and on the stage. His audiobook narrations range from true crime to history, biography, science, self-help and poetry. He is an Earphones award winner for fiction.