The Judas Valley
by Robert Silverberg and Randall Garrett
Published by LibriVox
Read by Phil Chenevert
I had not read this one before, and I have enjoyed stories by both Silverberg and Garrett. It was a free download so I figured why not? How bad could it be?
Well, it was pretty good.
This is an imaginative and original story about a planet where the first exploratory team stepped off their ship and promptly dropped dead. All died except for one survivor who returned to tell a tantalizingly incomplete version of the tale. Naturally a second ship had to be sent out to investigate and report on what had happened. Now all they had to do was live long enough to figure it out.
This story was originally published in the October, 1956 issue of Amazing Stories and is, I think, an excellent example of the science fiction of that period. If the same story were written today it would no doubt drag on with long-winded character development and the horror of watching one’s fellows die mysteriously one by one. There would be several grisly scenes, no doubt, graphically written because too many people confuse science fiction with horror. However, while this story would have made a good episode on The Twilight Zone or Outer Limits, it is not a scary story, merely one to entertain for an hour or so.
Phil Chenevert reads well enough, but sometimes he slips into a sing-song rhythm with exaggerated rising and deepening tones in his voice and this was one of those times. Some people enjoy that almost hypnotic sort of storytelling technique, but it was not quite to my taste. I found myself sort of nodding in time which might not have been the best thing to do because I listen while driving. However, like I say, some people really enjoy this sort of reading and Mister Chenevert does it well.
So we have a really nice short story of classic science fiction and read in a manner you will either love or love to make fun of, but I think in general most will enjoy this one.