Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #310 – Jesse, Paul, and Marissa talk about Eye In The Sky by Philip K. Dick

Talked about on today’s show:
1957, more Dick than non-Dick, Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said, Valis, Dick off the rails, The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick, a Bevatron is a thing, if you die in an unreal world does it have gravitas?, the gravitas comes with escape, puzzle solving vs. mortal peril, simulated lives, anime, Ergo Proxy, the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Inner Light, the days of episodic TV, The Star by Arthur C. Clarke, eight worlds?, religious, Victorian world, horror world, communist world, mental beliefs, Mysterium by Robert Charles Wilson, gnostic Christianity, Bábism, Bahá’í religion, Harry Turtledove, Yazidis, the connection to languages, Hamilton’s religiosity, Ohm’s Law, a car manual as a prayer book, the whole place gets damned, angels, a cartoon of the Victorians, a horse wearing trousers, a cow did something very natural, abolishing, censorship world, the narrator, deleting things from the universe, metals!, they’ll kill the universe, the Star Trek: The Next GenerationRemember Me“, Delirious (1991), a house that eats people, the carpet licked them back, a consensual hallucination, role-playing game style, Chapter 14, the walls sweated saliva, The Twilight Zone: The Movie, It’s a Good Life by Jerome Bixby, banished to cartoon world, excrete some buttons on the back porch, a man-hater, middle-aged man dandruff, seeing miracles everywhere, seeing everyone as a predator, the cat!, Ninny Numbcat, a kind of peristaltic wave, “praying that it could be killed”, the most horrific thing ever, the Damon Knight story Four In One, gestalt, projecting on to the world, poor people, very odd, the Freudian psychology of it, a perverse pleasure, one of Dick’s themes, sexless creatures, playing records as a euphemism, wives are pretty rare, Dick’s perfect woman, being a communist, so McCarthyistic, the Red Scare, the super-patriots are the most easily manipulated, Total Recall, an errant earwig, oh heavens!, just a co-incidence, are they still trapped in the Bevatron?, how they make anime show titles, random, why do they keep looking at their food?, confusing and mysterious, René Descartes, cogito ergo sum, ergo = therefore, Django Wexler, boring and illogical, stilted conventions?, visual grammar, Yes Minister, the economy in The Fellowship Of The Ring, no anime Jesse has seen has an economy, gold pressed latinum, making the viewer at ease with thigh length boots, trapped in a universe that makes no sense, Skiffy and Fanty, Ghost In The Shell, Akira, Akira Kurosawa, Summer Wars, The Wings of Honnêamise, a weird logic, the Electronics Development Agency, phone lines to God, the visit to God, a Fall, the mundanity of Earth, the Book of Acts, inflating and deflating worlds, The Father-Thing, Invaders From Mars, The Hanging Stranger, feeling sexy, enjoying the prudish world, storks!, Santa Claus style lies, sublimating the urge for sex, the bowerbird, animal art, Shakespearean sonnets are about seduction, a playful book, a day off of work to take a cat to the pet show, a spinning-up of a world, rejecting the premises, Stranger Than Fiction (2006), Emma Thompson.

Ace - Eye In The Sky by Philip K. Dick
Ace - Eye In The Sky by Philip K. Dick

Posted by Jesse Willis

SFFaudio Review

An Unwelcome Quest by Scott MeyerAn Unwelcome Quest (Magic 2.0, Book 3)
By Scott Meyer; Narrated by: Luke Daniels
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: 10 February 2015
[UNABRIDGED] – 11 hours, 46 minutes

Themes: / hacker / time travel / fantasy / humor / wolves / wenches / wastelands /

Publisher summary:

Ever since Martin Banks and his fellow computer geeks discovered that reality is just a computer program to be happily hacked, they’ve been jaunting back and forth through time, posing as medieval wizards and having the epic adventures that other nerds can only dream of having. But even in their wildest fantasies, they never expected to end up at the mercy of the former apprentice whom they sent to prison for gross misuse of magic and all-around evil behavior.

Who knew that the vengeful Todd would escape, then conjure a computer game packed with wolves, wenches, wastelands, and assorted harrowing hazards – and trap his hapless former friends inside it? Stripped of their magic powers, the would-be wizards must brave terrifying dangers, technical glitches, and one another’s company if they want to see Medieval England – and their favorite sci-fi movies on VHS – ever again. Can our heroes survive this magical mystery torture? Or will it only lead them and their pointy hats into more peril?

Review:

Executive Summary: This series is a lot of fun, and this book might be the best yet. I really hope we’ll get a 4th book.

Audio book: What more can I say about Luke Daniels? I said he’d be good at reading the phone book, and he obliged me. I bet he’d even do a good job of the Begats. He brings this book to life. It may as well be a radio play. Do yourselves a favor and do this book in audio.

Full Review
I sort of fell into this series by accident last year. It’s not going to be winning any awards or anything, but if you want a fun and light series, look no further.

I thought that while the second book addressed my complaints about the lack of women from the first book, the plot and the humor were weaker. This book seems the most polished yet. While probably not as funny as the first book, it’s definitely the best written. The characters are more developed, the plot is tighter, and in general I was always excited to to start listening again.

If you’ve ever played buggy video games, or written buggy code, I think you’ll especially find a lot to like here. I like how some of the supporting characters from Off to Be the Wizard that mostly took a backseat in Spell or High Water were not only more heavily featured, but really had a chance to shine. I especially enjoyed Tyler’s running commentary throughout the book.

That said, my favorite character continues to be Phillip. Especially when he’s talking to Jimmy. And Jimmy of course is as great as ever.

If you liked the first two books, definitely give this one a try. And if you haven’t given this series a try yet, you really should. It’s a lot of fun, and I really hope we’ll get more of them.

Review by Rob Zak.

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #309 – Jesse, Jenny, and Tamahome talk about new audiobook releases and recent audiobook arrivals.

Talked about on today’s show:
Contemporary Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, MagicsAn Unwelcome Quest (Magic 2.0 #3) by Scott Meyer, Finn Fancy Necromancy by Randy Henderson, The Mermaid’s Sister by Carrie Anne Noble, Monster Hunter Nemesis by Larry Correia, Sad puppy Hugo campaignUnseen (Unborn #2) by Amber Lynn Natusch, just read the first sentence, Claimed (Servants of Fate #2) by Sarah Fine, Hellbender (Fangborn #3) by Dana Cameron, Kate Rudd and Paul Rudd?, The Syndrome: The Kingdom Keepers Collection by Ridley Pearson

Alternative History1636: Commander Cantrell in the West Indies (Ring of Fire #15) by Eric Flint and Charles E. Gannon

Virtual Reality/CyberpunkMountain Of Black Glass (Otherland, Book 3) and Sea Of Silver Light (Otherland, Book 4)  by Tad Williams, these are chunky books

Military Sci-FiGemini Cell (Shadow Ops #4) by Myke Cole, the Jump Universe and the Vicky Peterwald series by Mike Shepherd, not narrated by Matthew McConaughey, Tarnished Knight (The Lost Stars #1) by Jack Campbell, pronunciations, a new #1, Time Patrol (Nightstalkers #4) by Bob Mayer, Heir to the Jedi: Star Wars by Kevin Hearne, King of Thieves (Odyssey One: Star Rogue) by Evan Currie

Epic/Traditional FantasyBlack God’s Kiss by C. L. Moore, she’s a woman, The Black Fire Concerto (The Stormlight Symphony #1) by Mike Allen, “ensorcelled” gains popularity, A Blink of the Screen: Collected Shorter Fiction by Terry Pratchett, Hypnogoria (Jim Moon) podcast covered Terry PratchettToll the Hounds (Malazan Book of the Fallen #8) by Steven Erikson, the Circle of Magic and The Circle Opens and (later) the Immortals Quartet series by Tamora Pierce, Full Cast Audio is sort of audio drama, The Light Princess by George MacDonald, The Keeper (Watersmeet #3) by Ellen Jensen Abbott

Space Sci-FiRobot Dreams by Isaac Asimov, vs I, Robot, short story highlights, The Fortress in Orion (Dead Enders #1) by Mike Resnick, Under Different Stars (The Kricket #1) and Sea of Stars (The Kricket Series #2) by Amy A. Bartol, Old Venus edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, we can pronounce “Dozois”, Venus as it should be, S.M. Stirling

Zombies, Apocalypse, Dystopia, Steampunk, Horror (Grab bag!)The Sky-Riders by Paul Dellinger and Mike Allen, Pinkerton (detective agency)Islands of Rage & Hope (Black Tide Rising #3) by John Ringo, Firefight (Reckoners #2) by Brandon Sanderson, The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant by Drew Hayes, sexy title, The Mechanical: The Alchemy Wars #1 by Ian Tregillis, clockpunk?, The Fire Sermon (Fire Sermon #1) by Francesca Haig, twins, Cheech and Chong, The Intruder and The Hunger, and Other Stories by Charles Beaumont, Untouched by Human Hands by Robert Sheckley, readalong by Sffaudio (no Tama), Fury by Henry Kuttner, old Venus is back

Related Non-fictionAlan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges, part of the Guardian Essential Library, apples, The Interstellar Age by Jim Bell, read by the author, Scott will review, slingshot effect, back seat drivers, The Sagas of Ragnar Lodbrok translated from the Old Norse by Ben Waggoner, Vikings

Black God's Kiss by C.L. Moore

Posted by Tamahome

Podcast

A Double Barrelled Detective Story
The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #308 – A Double Barrelled Detective Story by Mark Twain; read by John Greenman. This is an unabridged reading of the story (1 hour 58 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse and Paul Weimer.

Talked about on today’s show:
January and February 1902, a one man machine, why don’t people like this story, acerbic humour, puncturing sacred cows (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes), chance and chaos vs. logic and reason, Tom Sawyer, Detective, Mark Twain’s detective fiction, real life detectives are completely incompetent, Pinkertons, corruption, early private detectives as upholding the system, post-WWII detectives, noir, an uneasy triangle, a rogue agent for justice, how ridiculous Sherlock Holmes is, Sherlock Holmes’s brother runs the British government?, Sherlock does the retail and Mycroft does the wholesale, The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother (1975) , Young Sherlock Holmes (1985), if Watson is not there to tell us…, Without A Clue (1988), humble-bragging, the crime doctor, Remington Steele, when the miners deflate Sherlock Holmes, oh yes he’s died many times, the smell of the grave, yet another revival, The Hound Of The Baskervilles, San Bernardino, unkillable, unstaydeadable, how meta this story was, “the great detective narratives”, one of Twain’s autobiographies,

It was a crisp and spicy morning in early October. The lilacs and laburnums, lit with the glory-fires of autumn, hung burning and flashing in the upper air, a fairy bridge provided by kind Nature for the wingless wild things that have their homes in the tree-tops and would visit together; the larch and the pomegranate flung their purple and yellow flames in brilliant broad splashes along the slanting sweep of the woodland; the sensuous fragrance of innumerable deciduous flowers rose upon the swooning atmosphere; far in the empty sky a solitary oesophagus slept upon motionless wing; everywhere brooded stillness, serenity, and the peace of God.

is that a typo?, so many readers didn’t see they were being made fun of, we eat so much bullshit, a parody of everything, epistolary writing, perspective change, the shotgun approach to satire, Fetlock Jones, an obscure English Christan name, pain for all eternity, Melbourne, a travelogue, the great detectives were monsters hounding innocent people, the expectations of the townspeople and the reader, the movements of Holmes’ hands, ravaged by bloodhounds, a superpower, a superhero, the 1965 movie adaptation, a miscreant boss, marriage, revenge, Sherlock Holmes’ American adventures, The Valley Of Fear is a Sherlock Holmes story that begins and ends with Holmes in his bathrobe, The Five Orange Pips, the KKK!, Doyle’s embarrassment by Holmes, Hard Case Crime, a youthful embarrassment, Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014), Galaxy Quest (1999), fan service,

“What a curious thing a detective story is, was there ever one that the author needn’t be ashamed of, except Murders In The Rue Morgue?”

C. Auguste Dupin, earlier detective stories, The Dog And The Horse by Voltaire, Zadig’s super-observance, punishment for honesty, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, Drood by Dan Simmons, Moonmist, Infocom, Agatha Christie, Doctor Who: The Unicorn And The Wasp, Tommy and Tuppence, The Pretender, UPN, Brandon Sanderson, the mystery story, as readers of Sherlock Holmes we feel that we could be like Sherlock Holmes, finger stains and muddy boots and walking sticks with bite marks from Alsatians, Ham Sandwich, Wells Fargo, training you powers of deduction, The Librarian TV movies and The Librarians TV series, a superpower that real people (think) they could have, Doyle’s story on the origin of Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Joseph Bell ding ding ding, Murder Rooms, instant diagnosis of disease, predictions vs. diagnosis, web M.D., gout!, Benjamin Franklin, House, M.D., The Talons of Weng-Chiang, The Aluminum Crutch, The Giant Rat Of Sumatra, bad special effects and great writing is preferable to good special effects and shit writing, a little more juice, Murdoch Mysteries (Season 8, Episode 6: “The Murdoch Appreciation Society”), a parallel to the Twain novel, the many cameos by historical figures, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, how interesting the time period was, telegraph technology, the attention to detail is very high, modern Doctor Who elevates relationships over facts about history whereas historical facts are foremost in the Murdoch Mysteries, The Newsroom, as we gain perspective on history…, we know what was going on 100 years ago, why Jesse hates modern Doctor Who, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, Corey Carrier’s Indiana Jones, seeing Ernest Hemingway over time, the belle epoch

Stillman accuses Sherlock Holmes (1903) illustration by F. Luis Mora

A Double Barrelled Detective Story by Mark Twain - Stillman Accuses Sherlock Holmes

Posted by Jesse Willis

SFFaudio Review

Martian Chronicles by Ray BradburyThe Martian Chronicles
By Ray Bradury; Performed by Mark Boyett
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
[UNABRIDGED] – 8 hours

Themes: / Mars / science fiction / short stories /

Ray Bradbury is a storyteller without peer, a poet of the possible, and, indisputably, one of America’s most beloved authors. In a much-celebrated literary career that has spanned seven decades, he has produced an astonishing body of work: unforgettable novels, essays, theatrical works, screenplays and teleplays, and numerous superb short-story collections, including The Martian Chronicles: masterfully rendered stories of Earth’s settlement of the fourth world from the sun. Bradbury’s Mars is a place of hope, dreams, and metaphor—of crystal pillars and fossil seas—where a fine dust settles on the great empty cities of a silently destroyed civilization. It is here the invaders have come to despoil and commercialize, to grow and to learn—first a trickle, then a torrent rushing from a world with no future toward a promise of tomorrow. The Earthman conquers Mars…and then is conquered by it, lulled by dangerous lies of comfort and familiarity, and enchanted by the lingering glamour of an ancient, mysterious native race.Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles is a classic work of twentieth-century literature whose extraordinary power and imagination remain undimmed by time’s passage. In connected, chronological stories, the grandmaster of science fiction enthralls, challenges, and delights us, exposing in stark and stunning spacelight our strengths, our weaknesses, our follies, and our poignant humanity, on a strange and breathtaking world where humanity does not belong.

I’ve never read anything by Mr. Bradbury before. I’m not really well read in the “classics”. There is too much modern stuff I want to read, and in general I prefer fantasy to Sci-Fi. But when Brilliance Audio was releasing some of his better known works on Audio CD (although the production itself was done by Audible) last year, I jumped at the chance to finally give him a try.

I’ve been in a bit of a reading funk this year, and was trying to figure out what to read AFTER this book to get me out of it. Since it was short, I wanted to listen to it sooner rather than later, write up my review then move onto something else.

Apparently I just needed to listen to this. Apart from one story (Way in the Middle of the Air) which made me really uncomfortable and showed it’s age. It appears to have been eliminated from several of the more recent editions of this book, and I wish I had skipped it as it really adds very little to this collection.

Everything else was enjoyable. A bit depressing, but enjoyable. Mr. Bradbury paints a bleak picture of a future that thankfully never came. This isn’t hard sci-fi by any means, but more like dystopian space opera.

I would have never thought something bleak would lighten my mood, but the stories were that good, and the prose are excellent. They reminded me a lot of the Twilight Zone, although I know these stories predate that show. I think The Silent Towns could easily have been an episode of the show, as could several others.

I think my favorite of the collection is Usher II. I can’t pretend to get all the references apart from Poe and Lovecraft, but his tale of revenge for censorship is quite good. I’ll have to check out the Poe story The Fall of the House of Usher that seems to have influenced it.

Mark Boyett’s voice reminds me a bit of Rod Serling, which as I get into a bit below seemed a perfect fit. I know there are multiple versions of the audiobook. I’m not sure how easy they are to get a hold of, but this one seems like a good option.

Overall this is an excellent collection of stories, and if like me you haven’t read it/anything by Mr. Bradbury, this seems like as good a place as any to start.

Review by Rob Zak.

SFFaudio Review

Plague YearPlague Year (Plague #1)
By Jeff Carlson; Performed by Jeffrey Kafer
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
[UNABRIDGED] – 9 hours
Themes: / plague / disaster / nanotechnology / survivalists /

The nanotechnology was designed to fight cancer. Instead, it evolved into the machine plague, killing nearly five billion people and changing life on Earth forever.The nanotech has one weakness: it self-destructs at altitudes above ten thousand feet. Those few who’ve managed to escape the plague struggle to stay alive on the highest mountains, but time is running out. There is famine and war, and the environment is crashing worldwide. Humanity’s last hope lies with a top nanotech researcher aboard the International Space Station—and with a small group of survivors in California who risk a daring journey below the death line.

The first half of Plague Year grabbed my attention thoroughly. The plight of scattered survivors, barely eking out an existence on mountaintops after a plague has wiped out 99% of human civilization, fascinated me. Carlson described material and psychological conditions with great clarity.

It was also a very disturbing, sometimes horrific first half of a book. The first line welcomes us to cannibalism, and we move on to a variety of privations, torments, and deaths. Shifting perspective from a California mountaintop to a clutch of astronauts in orbit only heightened the sense of agony. This is no cozy catastrophe.

The setting alone would have been compelling, but Carlson adds hefty plot drivers to haul us along with even greater assurance. Our peak survivors learn of another group, and have to work out how to respond. The astronauts might be able to solve the plague, if only they could descend. And one survivor seems to know an awful lot about the end of the world.

The second half advances these plots, yes, and knits them together. But then Plague Year becomes a different book. Things shade from horror into action, from survival to small unit tactics. A political plot arises, but never really receives its due. And then we have a series of gunfights, standoffs, and problem-solving scenes which end up far too optimistically for what I expected. I did enjoy the expansion of the science plot, verging into hard science. But I missed the initial horror, and even the ongoing torment of one character, Sawyer the nano co-instigator, didn’t slake my awful appetite. Heck, I like playing The Long Dark for pleasure.

I listened to this book instead of reading it, and commend the reading by Jeffrey Kafer. He read the novel with mordant intensity, a splendid voice for bitter action. I’d be happy to hear Kafer read noir fiction or, well, anything bleak.

So I recommend listening to this, if possible. If your tastes are as Grand Guignol as mine, focus on the first half. If you are gentler than I, dear reader, rest assured that things do get better.

Posted by Bryan A.

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