Tin Can: Major Tom’s Nightmare

Following my last review of a science fiction AD straight out of a Weird Tales magazine, I’m going to introduce you to a show that simply CANNOT be missed if you are ANY fan of The Expanse, The Spinward Fringe series, or just sci-fi in general. Not only am I completely blown away by the story and the potential it has, but also the fact that while it does have several phenomenal voice actors, the entire behind the scenes editing, mixing, syncing, producing, praying is done by one person! I was lucky enough to have this person answer a few of my questions, which you can find at the end of this review.

Without further blabbering, let’s dial right into Tin Can.

Kicking off this show is a man called Gene Reynolds, the last surviving crew member of the wreck formerly known as The Rydeen. After surviving an explosion while being docked with a refueling satellite, we strap into the co-pilot’s seat as Gene attempts to duct tape and Gorilla Glue the Rydeen back together enough to get her moving. While he sets about making sure all the breaches are sealed and to get the emergency transmitter online, he receives a hail from another ship, Scout Ship Lagos. Naturally suspicious of involvement in the refueling sabotage, what follows is some excellent and memorable Sci-fi storytelling.

Now, what do I think? I think Tin Can is truly one of the greatest ADs I’ve listened to. I know, I seem to say that each time, but this one stands out. So much is experienced by the listener, and so much is done with so little. By little, I mean you as the listener aren’t given much backstory. You know that the Rydeen fell into a trap, you know that Gene is the only survivor, and that’s really it. But as the story goes on, you start to feel like you’re right there with him. Stranded in a broken starship in the middle of Dagon KNOWS where. All of a sudden, this other ship just HAPPENS to find you, and you back Gene 100% in being touchy with these people.

The sound production is quite spectacular for a one man job. The sounds are unique and placed very well, the pace is kept up despite there being a lone crewman in a fairly sized ship. You don’t feel like someone is speaking into a microphone. You hear the sounds of the shipboard computer and the ship itself coming to life as repairs are done. Everything pulls you in and lays the scene out in your mind. The only way I could see this being improved would be what I call ‘Soundscaping’. I’m sure there’s another word for it, and please feel free to correct me, but I mean if something happens to the left of the main character, it comes from the left speaker. I hope that makes sense.

The characters are extremely well scripted, and the actors deliver said script with grace and a professionalism that can only come from innate talent. There’s no ‘scripted’ feel to their words. It feels like it’s all coming straight from their heads, and that is a major plus in my book.

Tin Can is still relatively young, so there is no better time to subscribe and binge. You can’t afford to miss it, as I predict we will see Tin Can at the top of the iTunes podcast list very soon!

As promised, I spoke to the creator of Tin Can, Davis Devereux about the show itself, and how he handles all the behind the scenes AD production:

1.) Being a one human AD machine, what would you say is the part that you dread the most about the whole process from recording to uploading? Honestly, the part I dread is that moment right before I start working. Once I've started on something I'm focused and I find the whole process of making AD enjoyable and to a certain extent, relaxing (I like working, it's a problem), but there's a moment right before I start putting an episode together when the vast amount of work I have to do becomes apparent and, well it's not a great feeling! Once I get going though, it's great. 2.) Science Fiction is no easy genre to create in, what with all the technology and vast settings. What do you use, if anything, as a sort of template for this show? I came to AD from doing sound design and music for films, and while it was enjoyable and rewarding I always wanted to do science fiction sound design. I love Star Trek and Star Wars, both of them have iconic sound effects (how many franchises can say that?) and there's so much imagination involved in sci-fi sound design I was desperate to get involved! The initial idea for Tin Can was actually inspired by a video game called Faster Than Light where you control a ship with a very small crew and everything that happens is randomly generated each time. There was one playthrough where the ship got attacked and all but one of the crew survived, and I had to go through the rest of the game with the pilot doing everything. I remember thinking 'that'd make a great story'. FTL continues to be a source of inspiration for the show, as well as Star Trek and Firefly, though I'm constantly reading and watching and listening to new things to try and spark new ideas. 3.) The voice actors in the show are extremely talented! Are these friends of yours, or were they hired? Haha maybe they'll believe it coming from someone that isn't me! While I was at university I was a member of the drama society and have been fortunate to stay in contact with many of the very talented friends I made there, a lot of whom have gone on to act and make films and various other creative wonders. I hadn't met Elizabeth (Captain Prunty) before Tin Can, but she was a member of the same drama society (after I'd left though) and I'm happy to say we've become good friends since she took up her post on the Rydeen. Some of the newer characters are played by people from my bar job, most of whom have had no real voice acting experience before Tin Can, but they've been great. Everyone's been brilliant, and very very patient! 4.) Do you see Tin Can being a long term story, or do you see more of a short main story with spin offs, kind of like Liberty Critical Research? I'll admit the thought had occurred to me, especially now the ending of Tin Can's been written (but I'll say no more about it). There's the potential for a spin-off/sequel and it's a nice idea but there are other stories I want to explore first. Tin Can is set to finish in mid-2018, after which there are two AD projects I want to start on, one is science fiction, the other dystopian drama, but I've said too much already! 5.) What started you in Audio Drama production, and what advice could you give those that want to tell their stories through the power of Audio Drama? I came to audio drama from film, and before that, I was making music, though I'd grown up listening to BBC Radio and I loved The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy radio series. Making a film takes a lot of doing, you need a lot of people to make even a very small film. I enjoy working in filmmaking but I found when it came to telling my own stories it just wasn't the right medium. I understand sound and I know (roughly) how it works, and I much prefer working on my own and not having to wait on other people to finish things, audio drama's kind of the ideal scenario in that sense. You don't need very much to start making an audio drama: a script, a microphone, a few sound effects, some editing software and some voices, and depending on the story you might not even need the extra voices! The first episode of Tin Can I put together on my own with sound effects made in the (very cold) flat I was living in at the time with no budget or studios or anything like that. I think if you're interested in storytelling you should absolutely try audio drama: it's cheap, it teaches you to write better, you don't need expensive equipment, you don't need any friends, it's great! 6.) What can we expect in the future from Tin Can? There'll be a part of the story released every month until April 2018 (if everything works out!). Things are changing pretty fast for Gene, and that's not going to let up anytime soon.

Thanks again for checking out my review, and don’t forget to subscribe to Tin Can!