John Scalzi is set to release Murder by Other Means, an Audible-exclusive audio novella narrated by Zachary Quinto, a sequel to 2016’s The Dispatcher.
The story is due out on the platform on September 10th, and it comes as the audiobook company announced a new subscription tier for members: unlimited audio streaming.
The Dispatcher was also an Audible-exclusive story (Subterranean Press did release a limited edition a couple of years ago), and features a world in which it’s almost impossible to kill someone: someone who’s murdered comes back to life, 99.9% of the time. The story follows a man named Tony Valdez, a professional killer who takes advantage of that little quirk in reality to give people who are about to die a second chance. Say you have a patient that’s on an operating table who’s about to die: Tony deliberately kills them, giving the surgeon the opportunity to try again.
Scalzi provided Tor.com with a short description of what to expect:
“After witnessing a crime gone wrong, people start showing up dead around dispatcher Tony Valdez, in ways that seem connected to him. But how can that be, in a world where murder no longer exists?”
He also revealed three additional things: Quinto will be back to narrate this new installment, and that it’s not the last that we’ll see of this universe: a third installment is on the way from Audible, although it seems like it’ll be a while before we can listen to it. There’ll also be a print edition coming at some point in 2021, again from Subterranean Press.
The announcement comes as Audible introduces a new option for its members, which it’s calling Audible Plus and Audible Premium Plus: essentially a Netflix-style subscription for members. Audible Plus members can listen to a wide range of titles on Audible’s platform —around 11,000 titles, according to Deadline — for $7.95 a month.
Existing members will also be able to take advantage of this: their memberships will now be called Audible Premium Plus, and the price will remain at $14.95 a month. They’ll still get a credit with which they can buy an audiobook from the platform, and can listen to other titles in that larger, all-you-can-listen-to pool.
With Audible Plus is coming a number of new original projects from the company, including Scalzi’s. The company has been increasingly pushing into original audio programming as a way to lock in subscribers to its platform. That’s important, because Audible faces quite a bit more competition: Executive Vice President and Head of US Content Rachel Ghiazza told Deadline that the program comes as other companies begin to move in on the audiobook scene. Indie bookstore-friendly company Libro.fm has been around for a couple of years (and introduced Bookstore Link earlier this year), while Spotify just opened a search for a Head of Audiobooks position, signaling that it’s getting ready to enter the space before too much longer.