Being one of the guys over at HeyUGuys I was on hand to witness the beaming of Audible’s new audio drama Alien: River of Pain into space at an exclusive first-listen event. It was held at the stunning Royal Observatory in Greenwich’s planetarium ahead of the audio drama’s release on 26th April, which is officially Alien Day.
In many ways the location is perfect for such an event as the Royal Observatory Greenwich is one of the most important historic scientific sites in the world. Since its founding in 1675, Greenwich has been at the centre of the measurement of time and space, and you can actually still stand on the historic Prime Meridian line there. In many ways it was completely surreal to be there to witness an occasion that was part Carl Sagan’s Contact and part showbiz extravaganza at its finest.
Engrossed in the pitch-black dome of the Planetarium, audiences were transported to the murky and treacherous environs of planetoid LV-426 (now renamed Acheron) through superbly detailed sound-design and remarkable sonic effects. Taking place under a canopy of moons, planets and stars in the constellation Cancer, the River Of Pain premiere was a truly unique listening experience as audiences were treated to an excerpt of what we can expect from the audio drama.
The event’s sense of grand spectacle didn’t stop there however as later that night the audiobook was converted to digital signal and beamed up to space. This marked a first of its kind, dedicated space transmission for the Planetarium at the Royal Observatory and a unique opportunity for extra-terrestrials in space to listen to their kind, as interpreted by Homo sapiens here on earth. So we know who to blame if we wake up tomorrow morning and witness an Independence Day-esque ship on the horizon.
Royal Observatory Greenwich astronomer Tom Kerss who was narrating the event stated: “With a very powerful and highly directed transmission there is a possibility that our signals could one day be intercepted by intelligent alien lifeforms, listening out for radio signals from space.” Travelling at the speed of light, the Alien: River Of Pain signal will reach the star 55 Cancri (in the constellation Cancer) and its five known exoplanets in 40 years. Which unfortunately means that this film critic will be most likely in a zimmer frame by the time word of Planet Earth’s impressive audio drama producing skills will reach our future Alien overlords. It is interesting to note that the 55 Cancriexo planet system was chosen because it is about the same distance from our planet as the fictional Acheron in Alien: River of Pain and its parent star Zeta2 Reticuli.
Alien: River Of Pain is directed by the multi-award winning Dirk Maggs who is best-known for his adaptations of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy and Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere for the BBC. The drama also stars Anna Friel (Limitless, Pushing Daisies), Alexander Siddig (Game Of Thrones, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), and Michelle Ryan (Bionic Woman, Dr. Who, EastEnders). If the excerpt heard at the Planetarium is anything to go by we can expect a pleasurable auditory experience that oddly feels cinematic and will certainly appeal to fans of the Alien Franchise.
Originally published on April 26, 2017 for HeyUGuys.