A year ago, science fiction publisher Tor Books announced that it was launching a new imprint: Tor Labs, committed to experimental storytelling. Its initial project was a serialized podcast known as Steal the Stars, a pulpy audio drama about the staff of a secretive government contractor that is studying a crashed UFO.
Across 14 episodes, Steal the Stars follows Dak (voiced by Ashlie Atkinson), the chief of safety for a defense contractor known as Quill Marine that in possession of an alien spacecraft buried deep underground. It is Dak’s job to make positive that the ship and the alien contained inside is kept secret, enforcing the company’s stringent safety measures. But when she falls for a new employ, Lieutenant Commander Matthew Salem (voiced by Neimah Djourabchi), her life is turned upside down. Interpersonal romances are expressly forbidden, and the two go to fantastic lengths to hide their newfound partnership as their corporate overlords demand far more from the study group at the facility.
Final year, Tor Labs aired the whole series by way of weekly episodes, and later released with a industrial-free of charge compilation of the audio drama on Audible. But it also decided to do some thing… novel: it published a print adaptation of the series written by Nat Cassidy, one particular of the show’s voice actors.
The book is not like other higher-profile print editions of plays like Harry Potter and the Cursed Kid, which was just the screenplay in book kind. Rather, it illuminates the globe of the audio drama by way of prose, and even adds new material. “Because [Cassidy] was in it and there each and every day he got to see items going on in true time, got to see nuances,” Tor Labs editor Jen Gunnels says, “I feel that that gave him a level of insight into the whole procedure and into numerous characters that truly ended up displaying up in the book.”
Gunnels and senior editor Marco Palmieri told The Verge final year that the project came out of their observation that even though audiobooks and podcasts have grow to be far more well-liked than ever, handful of standard book publishers had been generating audio dramas. It expanded into conversation with individuals they knew in the theater sector — Gunnels is a former theater critic — and quickly playwright and audio dramatist Mac Rogers signed on to create the series. From there, the project came with each other rapidly, with Rogers finishing most of the script in about a month.
The partnership amongst Dak and Matt becomes central to the story, especially as they each threat their jobs to hold it a secret, and Gunnels says that one particular of the largest surprises was “how effectively the sex scenes worked” regardless of an audio-only format that could have produced them look cheesy or embarrassing.
“The other factor that truly shocked us was Dak,” she says. The hard-as-nails safety officer is accountable for overseeing the facility’s safety — and attempting to make positive that her personal individuals learn her illicit romance. Atkinson’s overall performance also produced some exciting ambiguity for listeners, some of whom couldn’t inform if Dak was male or female right after the initial episode. “[Atkinson] truly brought an exciting nuance, just since the way her voice sounds.”
Gunnels describes Dak as a quite forceful and powerful-willed character. “She’s utilized to becoming in handle and you do not truly get a lot of female characters like that.” She notes that listener observed that the series flipped the gender script on a familiar noir trope as the romance unfolds: “The femme fatale is a male in this story.” In addition to playing with the kind of the story, Tor Labs has played about with the underlying tropes of the genre that it is presented.
Steal the Stars ended up becoming a huge achievement, with more than a million downloads all through the course of its run. Gunnel notes that at some point, the podcast will be removed from its numerous free of charge areas on-line, but that listeners will nevertheless be capable to download the audiobook from Audible or choose up the novel from a bookstore. In the meantime, they’re currently brainstorming concepts for their subsequent audio drama project.