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Publisher's Summary

Winner, 2017 APA Audie Awards - Original Work

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.

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.

©2016 John Scalzi (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

What the critics say

"Quinto has a perfect hardboiled noir manner, which is exactly what you’d want for Valdez." ( Locus Magazine)

What listeners say about The Dispatcher

Average Customer Ratings
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    5 out of 5 stars

A little Short, but well worth it.

To be honest I didn’t notice how short this book was until after I purchased it, I nearly returned it immediately based on that alone, but I’ve come to trust in quality from John Scalzi so I went ahead with it.

John manages to once again build an incredible world in a short period and leave you wanting more. His attention to detail and way of passing on information about the world to the reader without simply handing us an alternate history book and expecting the reader to follow along is second to none.

I wish the book were 20 hours longer, but even at this length it’s totally worth a credit. Looking forward to more in the series!

4 people found this helpful

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  • 101
  • 2019-04-05

I Think I'm a Fan

Just dipped my toe in the water with this one to get a feel for John Scalzi's work, and boy was I impressed. It's short and sweet, but I'm pretty confident that I've found an excellent new author to look into.

If you aren't sure, like I was, give this story a try It's got a pretty cool premise.

4 people found this helpful

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Great book for a road trip.

Great short story. It's well paced with a performance gives it a calm but engaging quality, definitely worth a listen.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Jim
  • 2019-05-10

Really Enjoyed Quinto

The story itself was an interesting concept with lots of potential to explore. unfortunately it just kinda comes up short. It's much quicker than I expected, quite short, and the mystery just seems hollow as it's not much of a mystery

3 people found this helpful

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Love listening to Zachary Quinto

The story line is different and completely unexpected, but fully developed and captivating . The fact that Zachary Quinto narrated it made it even better. There is nothing worse than getting an audio book and you can’t stand the person’s voice. I just wish there were more books narrated by Mr.Quinto.

3 people found this helpful

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Unexpected and Wonderful

An absolutely wonderful tale in a world that really came to life with Quinto's narration.

3 people found this helpful

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Nice little story.

Nice little story. No profound meaning, but has some insight. Would be curious to hear more.

2 people found this helpful

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Engaging Sci-if storyline...

Great pace to story, tremendous breadth of voice-acting skill by Mr. Quinto. Highly recommend!

2 people found this helpful

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Good start, very short but enjoyable

it was good, very short, performance was good and got better as you listened to it.

1 person found this helpful

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delightfull and great story even if it was short :)

listening to this was a nice surprise since I never heard before the excellent performance of Mr. Quinto for an audiobook raconteur. ;)

The story was marvelous for the subject and all that was built around, life and death and human acceptance of both … bravo for the author!

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Joe Kraus
  • 2018-02-17

Clever Premise Mostly Unexplored

Several years ago, on the strength of something I started and gave up on almost immediately, I pegged Scalzi as a genre hack. I can’t remember what I read, but I know it reminded me of what I think of as the worst in fantasy: something that took itself too seriously, felt bloated, and depended on trite elements of the form.

Lately, though, I’ve been hearing things that made me think I might have miscast him. Someone somewhere praised his more recent non-fantasy series, and then this book came up on sale and mercifully short. So, I gave it a shot.

In praise of this, I did finish it. What’s more, I admire the root premise: it’s a world where something has changed so that anyone murdered by another returns to life. I grant the intriguing possibilities of that potentially supernatural phenomenon. I further grant that it’s an interesting move to imagine specialists in killing in such a changed world. These dispatchers kill people – usually in hospitals – so they will avoid natural deaths and thereby return to life.

But that’s about where my admiration stops. There’s a mystery in place, but there’s little grace in its exposition or its solution. It’s set in Chicago so, of course, it involves the mob. It also involves hot dogs and the best toppings for them, however briefly. And there’s a cop with whom our protagonist reluctantly partners. None of that material is especially compelling or memorable.

Worse, Scalzi barely mines the implications of his premise. He has his character embrace a too-easy agnosticism. When someone asks if the phenomenon of such resurrections is proof of the divine, he suggests a better proof would be for people to stop wanting to kill each other. That’s a good line, but it suggests a disappointing lack of interest in something so profound.

Since anyone who murders someone provokes this response, it isn’t clear why we need specialists like Valdez. Wouldn’t it make sense for doctors just to kill patients whose operations they’ve botched? Why bring in an outsider when anyone could do it?

In an even more glaring oversight, there’s no real consideration about the change in the value of a life if it’s suddenly so much harder to get killed. Beyond the theological implications, there ought to be existential ones: what does it mean to be alive if, suddenly, we get more chances at life than just the one? I’m not asking for Sartre, but I am asking for something along the lines of the excellent insights of Claire North’s The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August.

Anyway, I’m willing to bump Scalzi up one notch from the pay-no-mind-at-all level I first assigned him to, but I’m not persuaded to try any more of his work.

70 people found this helpful

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  • Matthew
  • 2016-11-09

Good Grief This Was Good

Any additional comments?

A phenomenal book, such that I don't believe John Scalzi is the author. I quite like Scalzi's works, but I think of them as highly entertaining mediocrity. First with Lock In and now this, I think he has grown to a new level.

Scalzi's standard humor that he is known for is absent in this book, but do not let that scare you off. It may be short, but there is a solid and strong story here that kept me riveted to the end. Then after I had finished it, I kept thinking about it long after the last words were spoken.

And spoken they were! Zachary Quinto is phenomenal!

Truly this is an easy recommendation to anyone who wants a thriller or a mystery with a clever spin.

290 people found this helpful

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  • Zero
  • 2016-10-21

Has a few flaws but still good

It's an interesting short story with an unusual premise and I would definitely recommend it, but it does have a few flaws. First, as much as a I like John Scalzi, not EVERY main character has to be a wise cracking super sarcastic hero whenever he's under the gun, and for this guy in particular it felt out of character. Second, I don't buy that someone who has spent years doing shady, probably illegal deals on the side decides to start hinting about it and late spilling his guts to a police officer he just met. Last, Zachary Quinto is a great actor and he does an awesome just with the voices, BUT there is nothing more irritating than a voice actor breathing into the microphone, which he does when he's doing the old woman voice.

53 people found this helpful

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  • Jim "The Impatient"
  • 2016-10-05

IT'S HARD TO GET MYSTICAL ABOUT YOUR JOB

IT'S JUST TAX MONEY
1. Those who love Scalzi's sense of humor, need to know that this has none of that.
2. This is dark and serious
3.This has none of the he said, she said, that seems to upset some people.
4. There is not an iota of science in this.
5. This is more of a paranormal, and seems to be a set up for a series similar to Harry Dresden.
5. Nothing is ever explained as far as the phenomenon that leads to dispatchers. Dispatchers kill people just before they die of other causes. This makes them come back alive 999 times out of 1000.
6. It is entertaining and worth your time.
7. narrator is top notch

311 people found this helpful

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  • james
  • 2018-02-19

3.69 stars...not bad for a short story

I got this as a Daily Deal for $1, so it was definitely worth that. It was a nice short story, but nothing that would cause me to immediately download more John Scalzi books. The story is a bit above average, and the same goes for the narrator.There's nothing exceptional or terrible here. It's an easy, short listen, and it is somewhat entertaining. If you're not looking to get into anything long or complicated and just want a good performance of a decent story that will hold your attention, then The Dispatcher is for you.

Overall rating: 3.69 stars

90 people found this helpful

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  • John
  • 2017-07-19

Sounds Like Television.

I am not a snob about clothes (you’d agree if you could see me). I’m not a snob about food. Or wine. Or bourbon. Or cars. But I am…um…particular about the books I read and listen to. The current popular fiction I glimpse on tablets or in paperback editions on the train seems, mostly, like nothing that would do much to elevate my mind or illuminate my inner being.

Does that sound horrible? I don’t mean for it to. It’s just that I’ve got more life behind me than ahead of me, and I want every book to count. Not trying to be dramatic. It’s just the truth.

So, when Audible offered The Dispatcher for free last October, I only snapped it up because I thought I might be wrong. I might be dismissing great stories just because they weren’t time-tested classics. I might be a victim of my own, perhaps too-precious discernment.

Turns out I was wrong. True, the Dispatcher sounds just like those books I sometimes read over peoples’ shoulders on the way to and from work: like television. Not in any way demanding. No need to rewind and savor a sentence or pause to mull over a fresh insight into the human dilemma. But I enjoyed it thoroughly.

This is a great little piece of science fiction. An odd thing is happening to people who get murdered: they come back. Scalzi’s accomplishment here is to make that completely believable, and then to play out some of the possibilities that scenario offers. Granted, there was far more profanity than I’m used to. Some of the social attitudes annoyed me. And I’m not sure I could have stood an entire novel in the same style. But I enjoyed this short, crisp, well-wrought story very much.

I admit to being out of the loop about what our narrator, Zachary Quinto, has done on stage and screen. But his performance, while excellent overall, got a little shaky in the distinguishing-the-voices department, probably the toughest part of audiobook narration.

157 people found this helpful

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  • Walker B.
  • 2019-04-10

ehh

It starts like it's going to have a deep and interesting ending. then it ends without answering anything. very disappointing and the first original I haven't liked

42 people found this helpful

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  • Gwyn Gwyrdd
  • 2018-05-27

Story is a bit Bradbury. Narrator is a bit Bueller.

I enjoyed this “what if” premise. It had a strong Bradbury flavor. The sophomoric use of bad language gave the story a slightly juvenile edge but at least it wasn't constant. The biggest downfall of this audiobook was Zachary Quinto’s decision to use the same voice for both of the most prominent characters - one male, one female, (well, he uses a slightly different accent)the only. While I appreciate the fact that he didn’t do the idiotic falsetto that so many male narrators unwisely choose for their female dialogue, he needed something more, because Scalzi writes a lot of conversation without dialogue tags. Also, when there was a chunk of tagless dialogue, that one rudder - the slightly different accent - that you could use to navigate between the two main characters disappeared.The result was me not knowing who was talking at all from time to time.

Also, Quinto sounds like he has a perpetually stuffed up nose. I wanted him to blow it. Badly. I’m not sure I could do a full length audiobook with him as narrator.

The story is a bit anticlimactic but has interesting (mostly theological with a spattering of scientific) musings along the way. I enjoyed it. On par with Koontz’s Odd Thomas or Ray Bradbury, but a little less sophisticated.

30 people found this helpful

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  • mthasleem
  • 2017-04-27

Great premise to an engrossing story

Quick book to finish; great narration and entertaining story with an intriguing premise. Highly recommended.

57 people found this helpful

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  • Cynthia R Phillips
  • 2019-08-09

Quinto & Scalzi - perfect pairing

This is the second time I've listened to this production and it is even better this time around.

Quinto's performance of Elaine's message in particular is heart breaking. His perfect pauses and subtle timing throughout make this story such a joy to listen to. Quinto acts each character, vocally delineates each and carries the listener through their arcs with deceptive ease...it really can not be that easy to do....

I am a fan of Scalzi's 'Lock In' duo and enjoyed the first several books in the 'Old Man's War' series...just never finished the series. I would be very pleased if 'The Dispatcher' had sequels - especially if Quinto reprises his performance.

4 people found this helpful

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  • MA
  • 2016-10-30

Zachary Quinto is a fabulous narrator!

Very good story, Zachary Quinto is so natural as a narrator, he has great voice.