SFFaudio Review

SandSand: Omnibus Edition
By Hugh Howey; Narrated by Karen Chilton
Publisher: Broad Reach Publishing
Publication Date: March 2014
[UNABRIDGED] – 10 hours, 15 minutes

Publisher summary: / post-apocalypse / sand / survival /

We live across the thousand dunes with grit in our teeth and sand in our homes. No one will come for us. No one will save us. This is our life, diving for remnants of the old world so that we may build what the wind destroys. No one is looking down on us. Those constellations in the night sky? Those are the backs of gods we see.

In his first book book since finishing his Silo trilogy, Mr. Howey does a good job creating another interesting post-apocalyptic world.  In this one the world is buried under sand and water is scarce. The daring and (maybe a bit crazy or stupid) use specialized equipment to dive deep under the sand and recover anything deemed valuable to be traded for money and supplies and just to get by.

The story is once again split up into multiple parts. The early books seems to each focus on a single POV, while the later ones jump around between them. All of our POV characters are from the same family. The children ranging in age from 10 to late 20′s, or so it seems. The oldest, Vic (short for Victoria not Victor) is probably my favorite though all of her younger brothers are interesting in their own right.

It’s a dangerous world full of thieves, murders and revolutionaries. Like his Silo books, the central story is a bit of a mystery. What happened? Why is the world buried under Sand? And on a smaller scale, what happened to the father of kids who walked off into the desert one night 10 years ago and never returned?

This was a short and enjoyable read. As it’s post-apocalyptic it’s more on the dark side so I’m reluctant to call it “light”, but it can certainly be called an easy read. There isn’t a ton of depth here, but it moves along at a quick pace. I’d say if you enjoyed his previous books you’ll likely enjoy this one as well.

Karen Chilton is a fine but mostly unexceptional reader. However I listened at 1.3x speed, which I don’t normally do, so that may played into it slightly. She’s clear and easy to understand, but didn’t really add or detract from the story itself.

Review by Rob Zak.

SFFaudio Review

The Scarifyers (9) The King Of WinterThe Scarifyers (9) The King Of Winter
By Simon Barnard and Paul Morris; Performed by a full cast
Digital Download or 2 CDs – Approx. 1 hour 34 Minutes [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Bafflegab
Published: October 17th, 2014 (PRE-ORDER AVAILABLE NOW)

Midsummer, 1938. When a train porter is frozen to his living room chair (then nearly crowned Miss Croydon), MI-13’s Harry Crow and Professor Dunning are on the case. But what links the unfortunate porter to the equally glaciated peer-of-the-realm, Lord Trumpley? MI:13’s investigations lead them to exclusive gentleman’s establishment, The Tartarus Club, whose membership appears to be rapidly dwindling. What is the secret of the Tartarus Club? Why are the villagers of Thornton Gibbet afraid of a 300-year-old ghost? And why is it snowing in June? As everlasting winter sets in, Crow and Dunning find themselves pitted against their greatest foe yet… THE KING OF WINTER.

Harry Crow, played by David Warner, and Professor Dunning, played by Terry Molloy, make a terrific duo. Though the main thrust of The King Of Winter is towards laughs the imposing voice of Warner is pure gravitas. This is the actor who played “Evil” in Time Bandits, the Cardassian torturer on Deep Space Nine, and the Master Control Program in the original TRON. Seeing him, or rather hearing him, commandeer a pair of tennis rackets for use as makeshift snowshoes is a truly delightful experience. Terry Molloy, though a staple of BBC radio drama, is probably more famous as the actor who portrayed the evil Davros, the creator of the Daleks. In The Scarifyers Molloy plays against the megalomaniacal type he’s so well know for, being a meek professor of occult literature. Together in The King Of Winter Dunning and Crow investigate the sudden freezing of seemingly unconnected men. There are also mysterious disappearing coins, oddly-aproned men (in a certain secret society that controls the entire world), and ribald jokes!

The period root of The Scarifyers series isn’t all that grounds this madcap show. Take, for example, Professor Dunning’s name. Dunning is the protagonist of M.R. James’ most famous story, Casting The Runes. And where The King Of Winter diverges from the mainstream of weird fiction is in the humour – this is very funny stuff what with two royal Georges, two green men, and two Father Christmases kicking each other. In fact, the writers throw in practically every kind of comedy, from thinly veiled ridicule of famous modern public figures, to the poking fun at dramatic convention itself. Personally, my favourite parts are the god-awful puns and word humour. This is particularly evident in this adventure as there’s a Shakespearian stage play in the climax – when a stage-frightened Professor Dunning improvises his rhymed lines, dressed as a tree … well you’ve got to hear it

Worthy of repeated listening The Sacrifyers: The King Of Winter, like its terrific theme song, is rousing comedic fun.

Cast:
David Warner as Harry Crow
Terry Molloy as Professor Dunning
Guy Henry as Charles Blackthorn
David Benson as Alexander Caulfield-Browne and Reverend Spicer
Stephen Critchlow as Prince George and Sir Reginald Flash
Lisa Bowerman as Dr Crook and Miss Lewis Smith
David Bickerstaff as Lord Huntingdon and Roger Dillcock
Alex Lowe as Hartley and King George VI

Posted by Jesse Willis

SFFaudio Review

Poe Stories and PoemsEdgar Allan Poe – Collected Stories and Poems
By Edgar Allen Poe; Performed by Ralph Cosham
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
[UNABRIDGED] – 4 hours
Themes: / short stories / poems / horror / classics/ locked door mystery / suspended animation / mesmerism /
Publisher summary:

Hundreds of books and articles have been written about Edgar Allan Poe. Even so, no one is really sure who Poe was. Many people say that he was as crazy as the characters he wrote about. Others say that Poe was a driven man with a simple wish. He wanted to write and to make a living by his writing. Even though Poe lived a miserable life, he wrote some of the most interesting and original literature ever created. This collection of his stories and poems includes:“The Raven”“The Cask of Amontillado”“The Fall of the House of Usher”“The Pit and the Pendulum”And more!

Table of Contents:
* The Raven
* The Cask of Amontillado
* The Tell-Tale Heart
* The Black Cat
* The Bells
* The Fall of the House of Usher
* Manuscript Found in a Bottle
* The sleeper
* The Man of the Crowd
* The Pit and the Pendulum
* Annabel Lee
* The Man that was Used Up: A Tale of the Late Bugaboo and Kickapoo Campaign
* The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether
* The Oval Portrait
* Eleonora
* The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
* Berenice
* The Murders in the Rue Morgue

This Edgar Allan Poe collection is accessible, and leans heavy to the short story with a smattering of poetry. Readers will recognize many of the titles, but some may discover new Poe within this volume.

One of my favorite Poe works to contemplate, “The Cask of Amontillado,” still resonates. Two new pieces that struck a pleasing chord were the poem “The Bells” and the short story “Manuscript Found in a Bottle,” which made me grin in readerly delight. I enjoyed most of the selections, and only a few felt soured with age or redundant verbosity.

The audiobook is both wonderful and slightly choppy. Ralph Cosham is the narrator, and his pacing, his timbre, his ability to capture and project Poe’s atmosphere of the strange and macabre renders an intimate listening experience. But it sounds as if the various pieces were lifted from separate audio productions and then spliced together. I distinctly heard discrepancies between selections in recording clarity, recording volume, and the sense that Cosham’s voice reflected the reader at different ages. In one piece, Cosham sounds like a vigorous young man barely out of his thirty’s; in another his voice sounds as if two decades vanished. You should definitely give this a listen, and come to your own conclusions.

Posted by Casey Hampton.

SFFaudio News

Day folk and night folk, take note!

This is now available over on Downpour.com

Harper Audio - The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman FULL CAST

A brand-new full cast audio edition of Neil Gaiman’s Newbery Award-winning novel, The Graveyard Book (on-sale: 9/30/14 from HarperAudio). Special content in this edition includes the story behind The Graveyard Book, written and read by Neil Gaiman.

Cast:
Derek Jacobi: Narrator
Robert Madge: Nobody Owens
Clare Corbett: Scarlett Perkins
Miriam Margoles: Mrs. Owens and Miss Lupescu
Andrew Scott: That Man Jack and Jay Frost
Julian Rhind-Tutt: Silas
Emilia Fox: Liza Hempstock
Reece Shearsmith: Jack Dandy, the Sleer, and Mr. Kirby
Lenny Henry: Honorable Archibald Fitzhugh
Neil Gaiman: Reads an essay about the creation of
The Graveyard Book and performs the part of Nehemiah Trott

Ensemble:
Elizabeth Bennett, Allan Corduner, Sean Baker, Tim Dann,
Adjoa Andoh, Jenny Gannon, Dan Weyman, and Daniel Brocklebank

Featuring music by Béla Fleck

Posted by Jesse Willis

SFFaudio Review

Clean Sweep by Ilona AndrewsClean Sweep
By Ilona Andrews; Narrated by Renee Raudman
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: March 2014
[UNABRIDGED] – 8 hours

Themes: / urban fantasy / Texas / magic / bed and breakfast / werewolves / vampires /

Publisher summary:

On the outside, Dina Demille is the epitome of normal. She runs a quaint Victorian Bed and Breakfast in a small Texas town, owns a Shih Tzu named Beast, and is a perfect neighbor, whose biggest problem should be what to serve her guests for breakfast.

But Dina is…different: Her broom is a deadly weapon; her Inn is magic and thinks for itself. Meant to be a lodging for otherworldly visitors, the only permanent guest is a retired Galactic aristocrat who can’t leave the grounds because she’s responsible for the deaths of millions and someone might shoot her on sight. Under the circumstances, “normal” is a bit of a stretch for Dina. And now, something with wicked claws and deepwater teeth has begun to hunt at night….

Feeling responsible for her neighbors, Dina decides to get involved. Before long, she has to juggle dealing with the annoyingly attractive, ex-military, new neighbor, Sean Evans—an alpha-strain werewolf—and the equally arresting cosmic vampire soldier, Arland, while trying to keep her inn and its guests safe. But the enemy she’s facing is unlike anything she’s ever encountered before. It’s smart, vicious, and lethal, and putting herself between this creature and her neighbors might just cost her everything.

Clean Sweep is an urban fantasy-type book with some interesting twists. Unfortunately, the narrator of the audiobook had a voice that didn’t fit the character and was so out of place that it made the book very difficult to listen to.

Dina is an innkeeper, a woman who runs a B&B in Texas. Her inn has magical properties and she has magical capabilities, her role being that of a neutral protector in a version of Earth/USA that includes normal humans but also has vampires, werewolves, and other magical beasts. The main thrust of the story is that Dina’s inn becomes the site for a showdown between two sides in a big family disagreement, though the book was more than halfway through before any of this became evident. The first half (or slightly more) of the book was world building and character introduction more than it was purely essential to the plot.

In Clean Sweep, Ilona Andrews has some interesting ideas about magic. I think I might be persuaded to read another book set in this world/series, assuming it was quicker to get to the point/didn’t do as much world-building, and assuming that I read it, not listened to it (or that the narrator was someone else). In Ms. Andrews’ world, the magical entities are by and large aliens from other worlds who find themselves on earth for a variety of reasons. What appears to be magic to “normal” people is actually uber nanotechnology or other futuristic technologies at work from alien worlds. There are many aggressive entities, such as the werewolves and vampires, but there are also places like the Inns, the Switzerland’s of the magical world. Innkeepers are to take no sides and to protect whoever signs the contract and pays to be a guest at the inn.

All of this goes awry when some creatures known as stalkers start killing dogs in the town where Dina’s inn is. At first, she believes that a local werewolf named Sean is to blame, but after killing two (with the help of Sean) and studying them, she comes to find out that these creatures may have been hired by vampires as part of a massive (and deadly) family feud. The world-building is mainly done by Dina explaining how the “magic” came to be to Sean, who knows nothing of the history of his species’ home planet or how his species came to earth. Through these explanations and through Dina’s preparations to help protect the vampires who are staying at the inn, the reader learns about other worlds, wormholes, and the true source of “magic.”

The book also has a side plot that was touched briefly upon, a story of Dina’s parents’ inn vanishing one day. Dina does a bit through the course of the narrative to try to find them, but it seems fairly obvious that it’s a side thread to be explored in later books/as a series arc. While most of the book is purely urban fantasy, there are also some hot and steamy scenes that are typically found in romance novels. Many urban fantasy books these days seem to have these scenes, whether they add to the story or not (in this case, not). There is also a possible threat, the local police officer thinking Dina is up to no good, but that thread is unceremoniously dropped just before the main thread of the story picks up, about halfway through. It’s not clear if this topic will be revisited in later books or if it was just an editing miss.

Clean Sweep is a fairly typical, action-packed urban fantasy story. There aren’t any deeper themes or morals to be had from it, though the idea of magic as uber technology is kind of fun. The book, once the actual plot started, was pretty quick to go through and fairly simple/straight-forward. This isn’t a book that’s going to make you think, or require lots of focused reading time to enjoy.

The only major negative is with the audiobook specifically. Dina is supposed to be a 23 year old woman living in Texas. Unfortunately, she sounds like an old grandmother from the deep south. The voice and the description of the character just don’t align. The narrator’s voices for the men were surprisingly good, but her overall voice just sounded old and tired. In parts where there was a lot of action, she actually sounded even worse, over dramatizing her voice acting. I actually thought she was going to die a few times. It was downright uncomfortable and annoying to listen to, and I cannot recommend the audiobook. If another book in this series is released, I may give it a go in print/Kindle, but won’t be listening again unless the narrator changes.

Posted by terpkristin.

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #284 – Jesse, Jenny, Tamahome, and Seth talk about NEW RELEASES and RECENT ARRIVALS.

Talked about on today’s show:
accent on the new releases, The Abyss Beyond Dreams by Peter F. Hamilton, Liviu’s Goodreads review, four dark Jack Cady novels, Jenny‘s Star Wars tweetfest, less chattering and battles, Scott Westerfeld’s Afterworlds, Westerfeld’s Uglies inspired by Ted Chiang, Hardboiled Wonderland And The End Of The World by Haruki Murakami, A New Dawn: Star Wars by John Jackson Miller, “Is this Firefly?”, the new canon, Marvel can make a movie about anything, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, Luke’s unstarred review of Connie Willis’s Doomsday Book, Jenny liked Blackout/All ClearA Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Nonfiction by Terry Pratchett, Future for Curious People by Gregory Sherl, mainstream or sf?, Puttering About in a Small Land by Philip K. Dick, it’s mainstream, Fairy Tales From The Brothers Grimm: A New English Version by Philip Pullman, Tex Avery’s Red Hot Riding HoodBaba YagaMage’s Blood by David Hair, What is a starred review?, Goodhouse by Peyton Marshall, Tales Of Terror Collection, The Best Ghost StoriesThe Scarifyers 09: THE KING OF WINTER (audio drama), “winter is coming”, Devoured by Jason Brant, A Walk Among the Tombstones: A Matt Scudder Mystery and Defender of the Innocent: The Casebook of Martin Ehrengraf by Lawrence Block, put out his own audiobooks, Man of Two Worlds by Frank Herbert and Brian Herbert, Echopraxia by Peter Watts, same world as Blindsight, it’s got a lot of references, books with “day” in the titleThis Perfect Day by Ira Levin (author of Rosemary’s Baby), Far Futures edited by Gregory Benford, they list the stories and describe them!, The Sound of His Horn by Sarban, Wild HuntThe Rolling Stones by Robert A. Heinlein, Edge of Tomorrow (All You Need Is Kill) by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, where is the Full Metal Bitch?, Groundhog Day, Steven Gould’s new Jumper book Exo is inspired by Heinlein, Geek’s Guide interviewthe cool first page, Darin Bradley’s Chimpanzee audio drama?

The Scarifyers 9 The King Of Winter

Posted by Tamahome

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