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art generated by Midjourney

The robots are reading! An old friend of mine who produces audio recordings for the visually impaired recently posted a Wall Street Journal article about DeepZen, a company that samples professional voice actors and narrators to create robot voices that produce audiobooks.

You might know I’ve produced three short audiobooks entirely on my own, but it was a time-consuming and challenging task even for someone with years of experience reading in public, engineering radio broadcasts, and recording my own music. And in the end, I thought the results were just okay, because I was so focused on the technical details and enunciating clearly that the readings themselves lack a bit of emotion.

So I thought, “What the heck? Let’s give the robots a shot at the hard work!” I chose the DeepZen voice of Lauren Williams—who has a British accent—and sent her a trial run of two short episodes from The Adventures of Meteor Mags and Patches. After all, the series features female characters using slang from the UK and Australia, and profanities inspired by the classical pirates from England. Maybe Lauren could lend the proper space-pirate vibe to Mags’ outbursts such as “Curse me for a bloody papist!”

Now you can judge robotic Lauren’s performance for yourself. Below are the links to audio files you can listen to in your browser or download like digital pirates, absolutely free of charge. The first story is Reborn, where Mags sets up a genetics lab to resurrect some of her freaky space pets whose DNA she preserved. The second is Solo Tour, where the paths of Mags, a murderous cyborg, and one of her teenage fans violently intersect.

Click Here to Listen to Reborn.

Click Here to Listen to Solo Tour.