The Dispatcher by John Scalzi
Narrator: Zachary Quinto
Published by Audible
Published on: October 4, 2016
Genres: Science Fiction
Length: 2 hours and 19 minutes
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One day, not long from now, it becomes almost impossible to murder anyone - 999 times out of a thousand, anyone who is intentionally killed comes back. How? We don't know. But it changes everything: war, crime, daily life.
Tony Valdez is a Dispatcher - a licensed, bonded professional whose job is to humanely dispatch those whose circumstances put them in death's crosshairs, so they can have a second chance to avoid the reaper. But when a fellow Dispatcher and former friend is apparently kidnapped, Tony learns that there are some things that are worse than death and that some people are ready to do almost anything to avenge a supposed wrong.
It's a race against time for Valdez to find his friend before it's too late...before not even a Dispatcher can save him.
Zachary Quinto - best known for his role as the Nimoy-approved Spock in the recent Star Trek reboot and the menacing, power-stealing serial killer, Sylar, in Heroes - brings his well-earned sci-fi credentials and simmering intensity to this audio-exclusive novella from master storyteller John Scalzi.
This was an Audible Freebie. I’ve see John Scalzi around Twitter, but haven’t read anything by him. I remember when it first came out and saw several reviews for it, but I forgot about it until I was texting with Jen from That’s What I’m Talking About. She was looking for a short listen between books. She really enjoyed it and reminded me about it, so I gave it a try. I’m really glad I did.
I can say that I didn’t remember much about this book when I started this book. However, everything was very clearly explained by the author. Tony Valdez is a Dispatcher. He basically murders people as a job, but with the intent that come back to life. In this world that Scalzi has created, people can die of natural causes, but not by murder. They will just wake up back in their home, in their bed, naked. Tony works mostly at a hospital during surgeries and if it looks like the patient might die, he kills them so that they come back. There are private jobs that people will also do, say if someone wants to try a experimental treatment or something a little more illegal, like for people fighting in particularly brutal cage matches or duels.
Anyway, a cop convinces Tony to help her investigate the disappearance of another Dispatcher. He helps with the expertise of the job, knowing some questions to ask and to help understand some of the details. They have some pretty interesting conversations about if what he was doing was right, killing people for the right reasons. See, there’s no guarantee that if you’re dispatched, that you will come back, just more likely than if you just die.
This a very short, but mysterious story. I loved listening to it. It isn’t often that an author can write a standalone story that is only about two hours in length. I was very impressed with how he had to go into character development, worldbuilding and mystery in so few words. I know that I’m definitely very interested in reading more that this author has written.
The narration for this short story was spot on. I thought he did a great job with the attitude of the main character, the grief of one man’s wife who was a failed dispatch, the mobster type guys and the female cop. There aren’t very many women in this story, but I thought he did a great job with what was there.