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Audiobook Review: The Final Constant

Author: Mitchell Dorian

Narrator: Zachary Johnson

Length: 1 hour 4 minutes

Publisher: Audiobook Empire

Producer: Audiobook Empire

Released: August 10, 2021

Genre: Science Fiction; Anthology

You can prolong the inevitable. But can you avert it? Mr. Markov is a man with a lust for immortality, and a wife of decades who has made her peace with death. Dr. Grant Eddings is a man obsessed with regret, hell-bent on bending and breaking time to undo his greatest mistakes. Rose is a clone soldier of the Legion, born from the cells of a famed warrior and conditioned to fight against an enemy of incomprehensible power and intelligence. Author Mitchell Dorian presents three short stories of time travel, love, loss, and war. Set in the distant and the not-so-distant future, each tale sees its often dubious hero grapple with the passage of time, and with it, life.
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Mitchell Dorian would proudly describe himself as a non-conformist, hyper-aware of mainstream sensibilities and always sure to contradict them so that he may never be defined by what the herd thinks. He may also have a poor sense of irony. He lives with his pet rock, Duane, and his Sim family. He finds it easier to be friends with entities whose names, faces, and personalities he can alter at will with a click of a button and/or whim of the mind, depending on his mood. He has strongly considered setting up a pet Instagram for said rock, but Duane has not proven cooperative yet, often looking away at inopportune moments during the photographing process. Mitchell’s first novel, THE FINAL CONSTANT, will be available on audiobook August 2021.
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Lover of mathematics, devourer of science fiction, and connoisseur of the dad joke. When he’s not doing math for business or fun, he’s devouring science fiction and fantasy, reading up on scientific advancements, going for a jog, or, on all too rare occasions, taking a refreshing swim at the beach. At your service, you shall have an able storyteller and gifted conveyor of information. Experienced in narrating fiction, from the romantic to the post-apocalyptic, and nonfiction, from the historical to the corporate, and armed with the tools to make it all sound great, Zachary promises that, no matter the job, you’ll be read-iculously pleased!
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Q&A with Author Mitchell Dorian
  • How did you select your narrator?
    • I’d known him for some time. I knew he’d been wanting to narrate my stuff and I finally decided to make it happen.
  • How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
    • Very. Though, oddly enough, I found I didn’t really need to provide that this time around.
  • Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
    • Sometimes when I write something it comes from some bizarre, usually unsettling hypothetical I’ve been kicking around for a while. “Pulse” was like that. I was wondering what would happen if I ever got married and then regenerative medicine was invented and I wanted to live a few more centuries (which I most likely would) and my hypothetical wife didn’t. “The Passenger” was just the product of me being in a really bad mood one night. I think I was angry about some dumb mistake I made a decade ago, so I wrote about a guy that took such anger to an extreme.
  • Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
    • I think that hearing the sort of mounting, frantic madness I was going for in “The Passenger” put into audio really changed the experience of it. It’s certainly there in the text (I hope; I suppose I really mean “I tried to make sure it was there”) but having a narrator put a voice to it was a lot of fun!
  • If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?
    • Against my better judgment, almost certainly. I would try not to touch anything, but I probably would…
    • As to where I would go? I would love to visit the future. I want to see what becomes of us, I think. If we get spaceships and robots and that sort of thing. I’d jump forward maybe two or three thousand years? Enough to be sure that, assuming we survive that long, we’d at least have a foothold on a planet or two. Hopefully more.
  • What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
    • It’s not.
  • How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
    • I sleep a lot to celebrate things. I’m really fun at parties.
  • What gets you out of a writing slump? What about a reading slump?
    • For writing, baby steps. Revisit my old material. Edit a word here and there, re-immerse myself. Work my way up to adding a word. Then a few more. Then a few more. Just enough to allow me to discover the joy of working again. Once I get the habit train rolling, it gets easier.
    • As to reading? Same thing. Set it down for a while, discover other things. Then build the habit back up.
  • What’s your favorite:
    • Food: Ramen
    • Song: “Hocus Pocus” by Focus
    • Book: The Ocean at the End of the Lane
    • Television show: Deep Space Nine
    • Movie: Galaxy Quest
    • Band: King GIzzard and the Lizard Wizard
    • Sports team: Whichever one the people I’m watching with want to win; I don’t follow sports too closely
    • City: Seattle
  • What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
    • Commit to something tiny at first if the task seems daunting. Even two minutes a day. One minute. Thirty seconds. Writing is a craft, and aptitude at a craft requires good habits. You’d be surprised how quickly those minutes add up. I found myself with over fifty pages doing tiny little fifteen minutes stretches once.
  • Do you have any tips for authors going through the process of turning their books into audiobooks?
    • Embrace the mutative nature of collaboration. Nothing anyone writes ever comes out exactly the way they envision it when it’s entrusted to others. But if you find good people to work with, that can be more of a thrill than a bummer. If your narrator cares about your story, trust that they’ll do a good job realizing what that story means to them through their performance. And that can be really interesting to see how another artist interprets your work.
  • What’s next for you?
    • I’ve got three books in the works. Far-future science fiction, near-future science fiction, and a dark fantasy comedy. All of which will be coming to audio. I’m already going over narrators in my mind, actually. I’ve got a few I think would be really good.
Q&A with Narrator Zachary Johnson
  • When did you know you wanted to be an audiobook narrator?
    • I don’t know that I ever really had a specific moment where I realized this is what I wanted to do with my life, and I certainly never imagined it would become a full-time job. Actually, for quite a while I would joke that I did the opposite of what people who pursue acting careers do in the movies. So instead of sitting around doing math problems all day and then throwing down their pencil and saying “Damn it, I want to act!” I threw down my scripts and said “Damn it I want to do math problems all day!” And then I went back to school. It was only really when COVID hit and I took some time off work for safety reasons that I started pursuing the job in earnest. Next thing I knew it started to pay off, and now I’m here!
  • A lot of narrators seem to have a background in theatre. Is that something you think is essential to a successful narration career?
    • Helpful, most definitely, but not essential. It’s great to have experience in any form of acting when you’re doing this because, fundamentally, that’s what a narrator is. But, that said, it’s its own style of acting and not everything in the theater is going to translate perfectly. For example, you don’t have other actors to play off of, and you’re not as free to gesture as you might be on a stage. That said, training specifically in narratio is essential. A good teacher makes all the difference when it comes to learning how to understand and engage with the stories you’re telling.
  • What type of training have you undergone?
    • I’ve studied with the great Sean Pratt, of course, and I’ve also studied acting at Anthony Meindl’s Actor Workshop out in Hollywood. I was there for two years, and I’ve been aching to go back for a long time now. I also like to watch/listen to other narrators work to get an idea of how they do their jobs, and I have a ton of teachers in mind I want to work with in the coming years, like Scott Brick and PJ Ochlan.
  • How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for narrating?
    • I recently discovered this magical activity called “going outside for a few minutes” that I do between recording sessions. It really does make a difference to not only leave my studio, but my whole living space, for a little while. It’s really easy, even with clear separation between home and office, to still associate the “home” part of your living space with work since my commute is a walk to another room,.
  • Is there a particular genre you feel unsuited for? Have you ever declined a project because you didn’t think you were right for it?
    • Sure! I think it’s largely an instinctual thing. I’ve had certain projects come my way that I just felt for whatever reason I was not the person who could bring the work to life in the way the author wanted, and I said so. I don’t think it’s a feeling applicable to a certain genre or anything like that, but I’ve definitely had to turn down projects because I’ve felt badly suited for them.
  • What about this title compelled you to audition as narrator?
    • I know this author quite well, and I’d been wanting to narrate his stuff for a long time. I jumped at the chance when the opportunity presented itself.
  • Have there been any characters that you really connected with?
    • Actually, Dr. Eddings in “The Final Constant” is definitely one. I’m sure we can all relate to the pain that is wondering “what would my life be like if past me hadn’t done x stupid thing?!” It can be a hard feeling to live with if we let that obsession get the better of us, and when I was reading for him, it felt kind of like I was exploring that idea of an extreme obsession with fixing the past myself.
  • If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?
    • I know it would be a terrible idea, but yes. I would. I think I’d jump way ahead like 7 or 8 billion years to sneak a peek at what the galaxy will look like post-Earth. Plus, this way I can’t screw up the past.
  • If you could narrate one book from your youth what would it be and why?
    • “Holes,” for sure. I think that was the first “mature” book I read in my elementary school days and I remember being blown away by it. And I read it years later and it still held up. It’s just such a cool, unique story told in such a dry, funny way, and I would be over the moon if I ever got to record it.
  • What’s next for you?
    • A lot more books! I’ve got Stacy Bennett’s wonderful “Call of the Huntress,” Sam Burns’ “Fluke and the Faithless Father,” A.V. Warren’s “Vicheu Chronicles,” and A.D. Trosper’s “Dragon’s Call” series. Plus I’m planning on starting my YouTube channel back up and doing some live gaming streams there in addition to my promo videos! Come hang out if you see me!
  I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Audiobook Empire. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

The Finale Constant is a collection of three short stories dealing with death and immortality. There is a warning at the very beginning to let the listener know what they are about to hear. The following may be uncomfortable for some as it deals with death and suicide.

Mitchell Dorian sets the scenes quickly in each story and gives the listener enough for the imagination to sail. The illusion of death is amplified and what we do not know is never really answered. Dorian has succeeded in stirring up questions about the after-life with three quick, poignant and thought-provoking shorts.

The first short story is titled Pulse. An elderly man and his wife depicted in a loving cuddling position. By this time I was prepared it would have something to do with suicide after the warning at the beginning. The wife passes on and the gentleman evidently has changed his mind. It seems he had previously made arrangements to not only stay alive but to live indefinitely. Pulse is quick to the point but the eeriness that is left after is deeply felt and lingering.

The second short story is titled The Passenger. This story is about time travel. Living and living, over and over again. The character expresses an experience with different mothers, different childhoods, just re-living his life. And he logged them. He wants to end it. The Passenger is a disturbing look at what it might really mean to live an immortal life.

The third short story is titled Legionnaire. The legion is made up of past lives lived. Then after death joined to form one body. The thoughts, memories, maybe even souls remember who they were and their connections in life. Of course this causes disturbance in the legion. There are beings, voices or spirits in charge to change those thoughts, or get rid of what will not work within the legion. In Legionnaire, the conversations between Rose and those in charge, might be what it’s like keeping purgatory in order.

There is one common denominator, death. Each story has death and a certain “life after death” or immortality. There is also the concept of ending it or choosing. The chilling aspect of The Final Constant is the possibility we can not escape even by choice. That even after death we go on with a knowing of who we once were in life and where we are in death, by choice or not.

I thought the stories were chilling, creepy, weird and strange. That is not meant as a negative reaction. Especially from a horror fan. It is a perfect fit for the darker months of the year. And thought provoking!

The narrator Zachary Johnson gives a wonderful performance. Echoing the eerie, chilling feeling in his tone and range throughout in each story. Johnson does the voices for each character so distinctively. The story telling was dramatic and thoughtful to the part of each character and each mini story. At one point, there are multiple voices at the same time, and what ever Zachary did to accomplish this, it was spot on!

There was no unwanted background sounds or noises. It was just an enjoyable, eerie listen that left me with thoughts of what happens after death. Each story was chilling. I really liked listening to The Final Constant and would recommend to those that enjoy chillers, thrillers, sci-fi, dark fantasy and short stories. This title is a perfect fit as an audiobook.


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