Martin Goodman’s Ectopia, originally published in 2013, has been republished as an audiobook that’s available on Spotify! It’s now massively accessible with powerful, dramatic narration that enriches already brilliant source material. Listen to the greatness in just a click – right here.

 

Pru, how are you? Introduce yourself!

Coming out of a post graduate degree in an uncertain industry has certainly been a little stressful but the determination I had during this production still remains the same. I’m a 23-year-old Northerner looking for ways to have the adventure of a lifetime doing great things!

Describe Ectopia to us in your words:

Ectopia is a reflection of what the world could come to in under 300 pages. Homophobia, hate crimes, sexual violence and nasty experiments. It also manages to pull through with an escapist romance in a post-apocalyptic world where science struggles to define humanity.

How does Ectopia benefit from an audiobook?

Ectopia is a very vocal, visceral book. Originally a movie idea, as I recall Martin saying. It makes sense to hear the emotions and feel what the characters are going through. It really makes you curl your toes and leaves you with a gaping mouth.

What’s a particular (spoiler free!) moment that benefited from being adapted into an audiobook and why?

There are many… ones that make you gag, and smirk and ones that shock you unexpectedly. In some ways, Ectopia reflects the unexpected reality of our present. The brother and father’s volatile relationship leads to a dramatic change in the book. I think that’s the moment that best benefited from being audio.

Could you tell us about the actors involved?

Emma and Dan brought everything an actor should especially with their own individual talents. Emma’s ability to bring such a natural delivery with the smaller part of Karen was great to record on the final day. She was really easy to get along with and communicate with which made my job easier. I’m glad I could give her a relaxing environment too.

Dan’s versatility and ability to evoke heavy emotions was stunning and I loved watching him from behind the studio. He was juggling both rehearsals for his showcase and this long production of Ectopia – so kudos to him!

How did working on Ectopia come about, and what drew you to the project?

This project was a key part of my MA Publishing Dissertation at Manchester Metropolitan University. There were editorial options and things relating to social media, but the fact there was an option to produce a full audiobook struck my eyes. I love production and it is a growing industry… I knew I would get the most out of it as well as get leadership and team working opportunities.

What was working on the project like and what was the process?

It was fun and exciting as I was bringing it all together and overseeing the flow of it which was satisfying. Like any other production, there was a lot of planning. Meetings with Martin on Zoom, talking about what we feel will do the book justice and how we can make it happen.

Being a student and a former user of a studio during my Bachelors, I contacted Raz our engineer immediately and was able to get the studio booked. From then it was a matter of auditions over a dozen actors from the North, all so amazing that I could actually give them feedback and keep them in my books!

Emma wasn’t needed until the end but we had our own little meetings. For me, Martin and Dan, we were able to meet for lunch and have a tour of the studio and begin production for 3 long days the day after.

Wrap up was kind of emotional but very relieving. I just wanted to sleep by then! It was making notes for the dissertation and keeping the social energy constant that tired me out the most… as well as the early mornings!

Dan had to shoot off to his showcase but we all got a nice picture together in the studio and then the rest of us went out for drinks… from then it was a matter of still checking up on the edits and proofs.

What was your favourite part of the project?

My favourite part must have been the auditions and letting the two know they got the part… its always those moments that get you excited for it all.

What was the most surprising part of the project?

Can’t really say… I wasn’t surprised we went over studio time and I wasn’t surprised it was a stressful process when things didn’t work out. It’s all a part of production and it was a matter of being calm and persistent.

What advice do you have for anyone looking to do audiobook production at a small publishing company?

Be ready to make things happen on your own. Unlike big publishing houses where money and space is more available, you have to make do with what you’ve got. More importantly, you can’t always guarantee yourself another gig so it’s always good to keep looking for other projects or even pitching your own to the publishing house!

 

We’re proud to share that the British Science Fiction Association took on My Brother the Messiah, Martin Vopenka’s provocative sci-fi that combines technology, religion and human nature itself. It’s a stellar review that you can read in full here

I was most struck by Matt Colborn’s comparisons of Vopenka and other titans of modern sci-fi literature, namely Cory Doctorow and Kim Stanley Robinson. He writes:

‘The style and tone of this novel contrasts significantly with some dominant voices in English-language SF. It’s instructive comparing Vopenka’s style with recent US utopian novels like Kim Stanley Robinson’s Ministry of the Future (2020) and Cory Doctorow’s Walkaway (2017). The moral universe of the US novels seems broadly far less ambiguous than the one presented in My Brother the Messiah.’

This final statement is deserving of some elaboration.

In The Ministry of the Future and Walkaway, the salvation of Earth’s people lies in technological advancement. The Ministry of the Future advocates geoengineering, which means altering the planet with technology to fight climate change. In Walkaway, highly advanced 3D printing undermines the power of an oppressive oligarchy.

This technocentric worldview is common in western Europe and America, I think – particularly when we conceptualise the climate crisis. We’re bombarded with information about harnessing green energies, and developing ever-improving recycling or waste apparatuses.

In My Brother the Messiah, such optimism is gone. The technocratic governments are ineffective or exacerbate the problems of Vopenka’s dying world. What’s striking about this is that it’s not pessimism, it’s grounded realism; technology hasn’t always been our salvation. The very mission of creating a utopia has caused some of our darkest days in history.

Modern sci-fi writers sometimes craft future worlds that are almost ‘post-religion’. Often, religion is used as a metaphor for complacency or ignorance; it’s conceptualised as the antithesis to technological progress. This couldn’t be farther from the case in My Brother the Messiah. Here, the spiritual movement centring on the ‘messiah’ Eli is multifaceted. It explores conviction and doubt, science and faith. It explores the internal dynamics of the religion and its public perception. Technology and religion are inextricably intertwined. These people have found faith not because they have betrayed rationalism, but because rationalism has betrayed humanity.

My Brother the Messiah challenges the entanglement of technology and salvation, and undermines the dichotomy of science and religion. This greyness is the fabric of our world today; that’s what makes this speculative sci-fi so special.

Read some more reviews of My Brother the Messiah here, or buy it here

by George Biggs