While I was sick earlier this month, I had a lot of time to lie around catching up on my podcasts.  With so much time lying in bed, I managed to listen to everything by the time I had recovered.  It was time to find something new.

I turned to a podcast novel trilogy that I’ve been hearing about ever since it started, 7th Son by J.C. Hutchins.  Much like what happened with Scott Sigler, many of the podcasts I listen to are a fan of this trilogy and had been raving about it since it started in early 2006.  Even Sigler himself loves it, and I heard him say so many times while listening to his books (the two even collaborated on some book crossover competitions).

In other words, I’ve had these books on my list for a while.  I’m pleased to report that the book is everything I’ve heard about – and more – but while I could sit here begging you to listen to a book that is amassing a legion of fans to rival the Sigler junkies in number, I’ll give you the premise and move on to my other reason for posting:

7th Son is a free serialized audiobook. It chronicles the story of seven strangers who have been brought together after the recent assassination of the U.S. president. These men quickly discover they all appear to be the same man … with identical childhood memories.
Unwitting participants in a human cloning experiment, these “John Michael Smiths” have been assembled to catch the man who murdered the president. Their target? The man they were cloned from; the original John Michael Smith, code-named John Alpha.

Seriously.  If you consider yourself a sci-fi fan and the first episode doesn’t hook you, it may be time to reconsider just how much you enjoy sci-fi πŸ˜›

At any rate, when I finally decided to subscribe I wanted to make sure I didn’t cost anyone extra bandwidth so I used the files that my flatmate downloaded.  He’s been listening to it since July last year, and had the first two books archived.  This is where it gets interesting.

I carved my way through the first book in two days, totally hooked on the storyline and loving every minute.  At the back of my mind though, I was wondering how this guy had become so popular.  His story was indeed awesome, but he wasn’t connecting with the readers in the way that Scott Sigler does in his podcasts – playing listener calls, responding to questions, stuff that I came to realise was one of the reasons I enjoy podiobooks after being unable to stand regular audio books in the past.

At the end of the book, my question was answered.  My flatmate had downloaded the version from podiobooks.com – I already knew this from the sound clips played as part of each episode but didn’t think it was significant as Scott posts his books there as well.  Turns out that unlike Scott, J.C. creates a second version of each episode for podiobooks.com that cuts out all of the cool stuff.  I think this is a worthy idea for people that just want a plain audio book, but it would’ve been nice to know I was missing out on the discussion during the novel πŸ™‚

The good news is that J.C. uses LibSyn to host his podcast which means he doesn’t pay per download, so I went back and grabbed the first book again, skipping the story to catch up on the extras.  My faith was restored, he is as cool as Scott when it comes to fan connection and communication.  Two weeks later I’m 20 chapters into the second book and getting “cliffhangered” as much as anyone who listened at the time.  I’m pacing myself now because the third book only started a couple of months ago and I want to delay completely catching up as long as I can πŸ˜‰

It sounds like J.C. is already working on his next novel after book three, which makes me very happy.  He’s a brilliant writer and breathes a lot of life into his characters with his own voice acting.  Very highly recommended.