Radio Drama. Left Hand of Darkness, Earthsea.

Ray McCarthy

Sentient Marmite: The Truth may make you fret.
Jul 16, 2014
The Mid West (of Ireland)
Left Hand of Darkness
Listened to repeated part 1 last night and part 2 this afternoon on R4LW. Quite hard to follow compared to book. I wonder what it was like for anyone that hadn't read the book?

I now need to re-read the book.

Apparently Radio 4 extra is doing Earthsea end of April. I can get it on Satellite. Waste of bandwidth generally though. They should simply have less repeats on R4 and put the decent R4 Extra stuff on R4, or if more niche, online only.
I know what you mean; they chopped up the text and mixed up the order a bit. I read the book recently (a matter of weeks) so I found it relatively easy to follow, but like you say, for anyone who hasn't read it, it must be a lot harder to understand.

Apart from the adaptations of LHoD and Earthsea there is also a half hour interview with Ursula and some additional reading materials. It's all available on the radio 4 website on demand, but only for around 20 days.
At least they haven't made Ged white like the TV version*. They establish at the start that he is dark skinned. The TV version SERIOUSLY upset Ursula Le Guin. Having read about it, I don't want to watch Earthsea turned into a version of Conan the Barbarian.

But WHY mash together A Wizard of Earthsea and The Tombs of Atuan? It makes it much harder to follow, especially there two sets of flash backs (Ged and the girl/princess/priestess, ages since I last read the book, take turns to have flashbacks!) Especially on radio where there are no visual clues to scene changes. No rows of * * * or # # # for a scene change like in text.

Why on Radio 4 Extra (the part of "DAB Ghetto") rather than R4, political to try and boost flagging Digital only stations?

Episode 2 same time / channel (6pm BST R4 Extra) tomorrow, Tuesday 27th April 2015.

[* TV Version notes and Le Guin's Comments.
My protagonist is Ged, a boy with red-brown skin. In the film, he's a petulant white kid. Readers who've been wondering why I "let them change the story" may find some answers here.

When I sold the rights to Earthsea a few years ago, my contract gave me the standard status of "consultant"—which means whatever the producers want it to mean, almost always little or nothing.
She's not kind about it. ]
Also repeated at Midnight each day, so still time to get Episode 1 later tonight.

DRAMA: Ursula Le Guin - Earthsea
On: BBC Radio 4 Extra (Freesat 708)
Date: Tuesday 28th April 2015 (starting in 4 hours)
Time: 00:00 to 00:30 (30 minutes long)
Listened to ep.2.
IMO they have seriously damaged a pair of classic works by combining them. Why?
Perhaps I'll listen to ep. 3 tonight ...
Which is
a) Often Geoblocked outside UK, though some stuff works
b) I don't have a data cap suitable for streaming very much audio (never mind video).

Satellite, MW and LW BBC works fine here. I set up my Media PC for anything really important (It's got 2 x HD sat cards for 28.2E, 19.2E, 13E and 9E satellites and a USB stick that does DTT / DAB / FM).

Last night seemed to be exclusively the Tombs of Ataun part of story. I think it didn't really work putting Wizard of Earthsea as a flashback.

The Left Hand of Darkness was practically incoherent.

These were not relaxing adaptations. The processing and bit rate of R4 Extra didn't help either, The incidental music was too loud and often dialogue hard to follow. The scene changes / chopping around of time line might work better on TV, but is just confusing on Radio.

For me these adaptations are very poor experience compared to reading.

I read the link on BBC by the writer and found it a bit disjointed too!
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Because Thursday night seemed like the end and nothing listed for Friday I assumed it was over.
But Monday (the bank holiday) and Tuesday had two more episodes. It seems from a third book? I missed them as I only noticed on Wednesday.
No great loss. But Stupid BBC.
I´ve listened to The Left Hand of Darkness now, and I thought it was quite good! But then I know the story well by now. It´s probably harder to follow for those who have not read the book. I’ll try to listen to Earthsea sometime soon...

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