Thursday, January 12, 2017

recent read/listen; Doc Savage: Skull Island

Doc Savage: Skull Island by Will Murray

Doc Savage? Skull Island? King Kong?! Sign me up!

The book is roughly split in three sections. The first three chapters involve Doc and his gang employed as cleanup crew after King Kong falls to his death in New York City. After that prelude, we get a prequel tale featuring Doc, his father, and later his grandfather. Set in 1920, this tale contains a lot of the emotional dynamic between father and son. Doc is back from the war and reconnecting with his father. I believe a lot of groundwork and touchstones were included in this prequel story but I am not well-versed in Doc Savage. His "annihilator" machine gun is under development in this story.

The book clocks in at 400+ pages (according to Amazon.) That's a very long length for a Doc Savage story. Murray seems to have approached the tale as two shorter novels linked together - the first half deals with Doc and his father seafaring around the Pacific and Indian Ocean, searching for a lost schooner. They ran afoul of pirates.

I went in biased, of course. The initial seafaring story isn't bad but I was impatient to get to Skull Island.

The story got much better when they finally reached Skull Island. Lots of homages to KING KONG with clever references (spider canyon, dinosaur and ape evolutionary offshoots - which is why nothing on the island correctly matches the paleontological [is that a word?] record.) Lots of battles and derring-do.

I found some of the phrasing awkward and some word choices seemed to misuse the thesaurus. I don't know if that was Murray or if Murray was imitating Lester Dent.

Usually when I listen to an audiobook, I still consider it more of a 'read' than a 'listen.' But, it is worth mentioning details of this audiobook. Although this is put out by Radio Archives, it is a complete unabridged novel, not an audioplay. However, the narration very much sounds like an old radio show. In some cases this is good because the voice-acting is done well and the characters are distinct. On the other hand, it is a bit like listening to an overblown propaganda short from the 1950s or listening to Stan from AMERICAN DAD over emote even the simplest paragraph. It took a while to get used to it. Sometimes reverb is used for crowd and shouting effects.

So - felt a little long in the middle. I imagine in the old days it would have been two separate stories loosely connected. Fun romp in the end. If you're Doc Savage fan and/or a King Kong fan, you'll probably enjoy a lot of the book.


  1. I'll want to check this out. Sounds interesting.

  2. I read this a year or so back. I enjoyed it but I did think there were some flaws and some slow pacing that kept it from being as much fun as I'd hoped it would be.