What if you couldn’t die? Imagine a world in which death is an after thought, something that would only inconvenience you a bit during the course of your day. In John Scalzi’s short story, The Dispatcher, death basically no longer exists. While you might meet your end, someone can ensure that you wake back up safely in your home with not even a scratch on you. In a world where death typically isn’t permanent, danger can still find you, especially if you happen to be a dispatcher.
Tony Valdez is one such dispatcher, a person who is tasked with ensuring people die safely and conveniently. While this might sound morbid, typically his job is very standardized, heck there is even an app that can be used to facilitate with the deaths he is hired to complete. Now technically a dispatcher is hired by a company and they go to specific locations, for example a surgical theater, and help to dispatch someone who might be suffering from complications at the table. They can also take on side jobs or be asked to step in, much like an EMT, in the event of an emergency. One day Tony is on call and takes a job for a friend who asked him to cover. After this particular dispatch though, Tony is pulled into an investigation to find this particular friend when a detective tells him that he has gone missing. Their work continues to lead Tony into more and more danger as they delve deeper and deeper into what his friend was involve with.
The Dispatcher is performed by Zachary Quinto and his performance brings this story all about death completely to life. He primarily uses his own voice for the main character of Tony, but he works to give each of the additional characters diverse voices. My personal favorite happens to be a flunky who is connected to organize crime who Quinto manages to make sound absolutely nothing like his own voice. This is a feat for audio book performers, at least in my opinion. I have listened to a number of books where every character maintains a bit of the performers voice, but Quinto was able to make it sound as though someone completely new had stepped into the recording studio. I really enjoyed this story and was intrigued by the idea of a world where death practically never happens. As everything unfolds we do learn that in some cases true death can happen, but it is remarkably rare. I couldn’t guess any element of this plot, which kept me fixated on listening. If you are a fan of alternate futures or science fiction that is set in a a present like world you will love The Dispatcher. You can find The Dispatcher on Audible today.
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