Rebel Mission to Ord Mantell by Brian Daley (1983, Buena Vista Records)
This past summer, while on vacation with some friends, I had the pleasure of riding in a car equipped with the very nice and very out-of-my-price-range XM Satellite Radio service. While flipping through the veritable cornucopia of stations offered, we came across one devoted entirely to classic radio dramas. I immediately commandeered the radio and listened with rapt, white-knuckle attention to the adventures of pulp heroes like Sam Spade and Johnny Dollar. It was the first time I’d been able to hear so many of those programs at once, but it wasn’t my first time coming to the conclusion that audio drama is a fantastic storytelling format, and it’s a tragedy that it isn’t utilized more often.
The late Brian Daley must have agreed with me, because he is responsible not only for the books now referred to as The Han Solo Adventures, but also for the audio adaptations of the Star Wars Trilogy—and this little half-hour story, Rebel Mission to Ord Mantell.
The story’s premise is founded on a single line of dialogue from The Empire Strikes Back, meant only to remind the viewer of Han’s debt to Jabba the Hutt.
Here we learn the details of that encounter. As the Rebels set up base on Hoth, they find that they’re short on the funds they’ll need to get things running there. Fortunately for them, Leia comes up with a daring scheme to hijack a cash shipment being sent to the Empire from a company once owned by her family. Of course, there wouldn’t be much to it if everything went according to plan and, naturally, the monkey wrench in this case is a double-crossing bounty hunter looking to make bank by dragging Han back to Jabba.
As you can see here on the back cover, the voice cast appears to have been uncredited on the record, and my extensive searching hasn’t yielded any of their names. If anyone has more information on them, clue me in and I’ll update this review accordingly. In any case, it’s apparent that, unlike the original trilogy adaptations, none of the actors from the films appear here.
The guys who play Han and Luke are fairly close approximations, but Leia and Threepio are way off. None of the voices, however, is off-putting by itself. The overall quality of the voice acting is okay, but peppered with a few weird line deliveries that took me out of the action.
Barring one or two lines of unnecessary exposition (“The comlink got busted when I slugged Cypher with my gunbelt.”), the writing itself is solid. Daley has a firm grasp of these characters, and more generally, he knows how to write a fun, fast-paced science fiction story. Clocking in at less than thirty minutes, Rebel Mission to Ord Mantell is definitely worth a quick listen.
Fortunately, that quick listen is easily accomplished. The good folks at The Force.net have archived Rebel Mission to Ord Mantell in mp3 format here:
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