A big box arrived in the post this week with first copies of Hell Ship. It’s a wonderfully cool cover – lurid purple – with the words ALIEN, INVADERS AND PIRATES IN SPACE! blazoned over it. This is, believe it or not, my most serious and restrained book to date. A meditation on mortality and the nature of civilisation. But, since it’s a Palmer novel, there’s action galore and also much swearing. (Of the translated-from-an-alien-language variety.)
There’s also going to be an audio book version of Hell Ship – which really appeals to me because of my background in radio. In fact, I had a crazy and fascinating phone conversation a few weeks ago with David from Recorded Books in New York, the company who are making it. They were just about to start recording and they wanted to check how the names are all pronounced.
Oh my goodness! As if I would know.
The main characters (who each narrate their sections) are easy. Sai-ias is SIGH-EE-AS. Sharrock is, um, Sharrock. And Jak is pronounced Jak – like Jack – without the ‘c’!
It gets trickier the further you go into the book through. Here’s my favourite tongue twisting section:
My troops awaited my instructions; I scanned them carefully, looking for traces of fear or of independent thought. A hundred Kindred warriors stood with me in the hull, together with eleven giant sentients. Balach, Morio, Tamal, Sheenam, Goay, Leirak, Tarrroth, Shseil, Dokdrr, Ma.
Aargh! Shseil! Dodrr! Where did these names come from!
For those who aren’t familiar with the story of Hell Ship – which is basically everyone apart from me, since it hasn’t come out yet – it features aliens from many different universes who co-exist on an alien ship called, you guessed it, the Hell Ship.
In the audio version, the Sharrock sections are narrated by Gideon Emory, an actor I know from his role in the splendid heist movie Takers. The books narrated by Jak are read by Timothy Reynolds. And as Sai-ias, we have an actor who has recently featured in the US TV series Blue Bloods, Bianca Amato. (Who doesn’t, you’ll notice, look at all like the hideously ugly many-tentacled Sai-ias.)
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