Out of Time

Author: Ruth Boswell
Read by: Staten Eliot
Fantom Films
RRP: 10.99
Available 21 April 2007

After a blow on the head, seventeen year old Joe Harding makes his way back home, but home is gone. His house is inhabited by an aggressive stranger who tells Joe to flee. Unsure what to do the decision is made for Joe when he is attacked and driven out of the town. Joe escapes into the countryside, but it is not a countryside that he recognises. Instead of the urban sprawl that he was expecting Joe find an England covered in forests. He is found by The Community. Inside the community he meets other youngsters, including Kathryn with whom he falls in love. By the time Joe discovers that he has somehow fallen into a parallel world, he is determined to stay with Kathryn; however fate has a way of derailing his wishes...

Out of Time is the audio book of the novel by Ruth Boswell. The book runs for an impressive three hundred and fifty minutes, spread over five discs, and is narrated by Staten Eliot.

Boswell holds a special place in the hearts of gentleman of a certain age. When I was a young lad a program came on that just blew me away. Certainly there had been Science Fiction on the television, but apart for Doctor Who, anything of real depth and substance was reserved for the adults. That was until Timeslip hit the screens. As one of the co-creator, she produced a programme that did not talk down to its audience. Boswell's career continued in children's television when she moved over to produce the first four seasons of The Tomorrow People. Eventually she moved into adult programming, in the eighties she worked on Maybury with Patrick Stewart and in 1997 produced The Uninvited.

Staten Eliot may be a name of which you are unaware of. He is an up and coming young actor who has previously appeared in the films The Basement, Camp X-Ray: Ghosts of Guantanamo Bay and Lycanthropy. He has also appeared on television in Totally Frank and Trust; and on stage in The Tempest, The Second Maidens Tragedy and Life's a Dream. But we don't care about all that, not if we have to listen to his voice for nearly six hours. I'm pleased to report that Staten has a most melodious voice which pulls you into the story. One of the problems with spoken books is that you can tire of the narrator, but not so with Staten. His soft hewn voice enchants you.

So what of the story itself? Well, as it is by Boswell, you know that it's going to be an intelligent tale - Boswell always told intelligent stories that could be enjoyed by children and adults alike and this ability shines through in Out of Time. Although the story is targeted at an adolescent audience, it has not been limited by this. The descriptive passages draw you into an England that is known and unknown. Her characters are pleasantly flawed, making them all the more human and all the more identifiable.

If you like talking books you could do worse than purchase this disc set. My only gripe is that there are such long gaps between new stories from Ruth; hopefully if the book and disc are successful we may not have to wait so long for the next offering.

Charles Packer