Let ‘Em Breathe Space
By Lester Del Rey
Published by Librivox.org
Read by Gregg Margarite
This is an interesting bit of classic science fiction combined with a murder mystery that was first published in 1953. In some ways it is rather dated, which is not too surprising as it is about an expedition to Saturn written long before any manned space flight.
Del Rey’s story is about nineteen men and women crammed into an old space freighter that was really only built for a crew of six. It’s a ten-month trip, but halfway out tensions are on the rise and then one of the people on board starts killing the others and poisoning the air-producing plants in the hydroponics bay.
If you can get past the 1950’s view of space travel (I had no trouble) then it’s a nice bit of writing that as a murder mystery holds up well even if the science fiction aspects are somewhat dated, and it is a fairly short story so is worth the time to read or listen to even if it turns out not to be the sort of thing you like.
I generally have liked Gregg Margarite’s readings and he reads this one well too, but I think the recording could stand some work. It has far too much bass and was not recorded very loudly so I had to crank up the volume on my car’s stereo and then the sound of Mister Margarite’s voice boomed at me throughout. As he died back in 2012, we cannot ask him to re-record this story, but I think someone with a decent audio set-up could modify the sound track to boost the treble a bit and do whatever else would be needed to improve it. Even so, after the first part, I got used to the basso rumble of the recording and was able to enjoy the reading as much as I always do when Gregg Margarite is the reader.
So, a classic bit of Mid-20th Century science fiction that is read well even if the sound quality of the recording could stand a bit of re-mixing.