In the news… Neil Gaiman continues to collect we…

April 30, 2003 by · Leave a Comment
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SFFaudio News

In the news… Neil Gaiman continues to collect well-deserved awards. A couple of weeks ago, he accepted the Nebula Award (Best Novel) for his American Gods. He’s on the list of Hugo nominees (Best Novella) for Coraline. The audio version of Coraline (read by the author) has just been given a Parent’s Choice Silver Award – see details here. His fiction is fabulous, folks. Drop what you’re doing and go read or listen to some.

Commentary: Star Wars audiobooks

April 29, 2003 by · Leave a Comment
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SFFaudio Commentary

In 1999, Del Rey published Vector Prime by R.A. Salvatore. This novel was the first in a projected 22 novels in a series called The New Jedi Order. This week, the Star Wars website has a sneak peek of the penultimate novel in the series, The Final Prophecy. Only one more to go.

What does this have to do with audio? Well, every single one of these novels has been produced as an audiobook. And well-produced at that. I’ve listened to and enjoyed three of the titles – Vector Prime (Book 1) by R.A. Salvatore, Dark Tides I: Onslaught (Book 2) by Michael A. Stackpole, and Dark Journey (Book 10) by Elaine Cunningham.

These books have an overriding story, which readers (and listeners) like me really appreciate. Most media tie-in series are held in a tight grip – stuff is not allowed to happen. Each novel must end exactly where it began, allowing the next author’s tale to make sense. But in the New Jedi Order series, there was an overall plan to the 22 volumes to start with. Each author wrote his or her part of the story arc, and the results are excellent. In short, stuff happens in these books.

A quick note on setting: the series takes place years after Return of the Jedi. Luke is trying to rebuild the Jedi Council. Han and Leia are married, with three children, all teen Jedi. The bad guys in the series are the fascinating and sinister Yuuzhan Vong, a race of invaders from another galaxy who exist outside the Force.

Enjoy!

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein

April 25, 2003 by · Leave a Comment
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SFFaudio Review

Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein; Read by Lloyd James
5 Cassettes – 7.5 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Blackstone Audiobooks
Date Published: 1999
List Price: USD $39.95 – IN PRINT
ISBN: 0786117451
Themes: Science Fiction / Sci-Fi / Fantasy / Mystery / Pulp / Politics / Mars / Spaceships / Acting / Theatre / Shakespeare

One minute, down and out actor Lorenzo Smythe was – as usual – in a bar, drinking away his troubles as he watched his career go down the tubes. Then a space pilot bought him a drink, and the next thing Smythe knew, he was shanghaied to Mars. Suddenly he found himself agreeing to the most difficult role of his career: impersonating an important politician who had been kidnapped. Peace with the Martians was at stake – failure to pull off the act could result in interplanetary war. And Smythe’s own life was on the line – for if he wasn’t assassinated, there was always the possibility that he might be trapped in his new role forever!

Some Heinlein readers believe that the philosophy in Starship Troopers was Heinlein’s personal philosophy. They’re wrong. Heinlein’s primary philosophy was to provoke thought by explicating political consequences of certain philosophies… and to be entertaining doing it. Double Star proves this emphatically, presenting a completely different political system than Starship Troopers. The plot is a well known one. As old as the fairy tale The Prince and The Pauper, The Prisoner of Zenda or The Man In The Iron Mask; As new as the Hollywood movie Dave (1994) starring Kevin Kline.

This unabridged audiobook has so much more: Interplanetary space travel, alien contact and political upheaval. But it also has a fully realized political system, political campaigns, theory of government, theory of acting, kidnapping, murder, dirty tricks and its a mystery! There really is no better science fiction writer than Robert A. Heinlein. There are other great books by other great writers but none is as great as the dean of science fiction RAH. The reason? Simply put, he tells damn fine stories and does so constantly. This novel is a great example of just that. With a wild premise and a somewhat divergent plot (from Heinlein’s various themes) it tells an implausible story plausibly with emotional impact. This book won a Hugo award for 1956 (Heinlein’s first) and deserved it. It’s a fun ride and highly enjoyable. Pop it in your cassette deck and enter a different world.

Search for this title on eBay

Review of War of the Worlds, Mercury Theater of the Air

April 23, 2003 by · Leave a Comment
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SFFaudio Review

War of the Worlds, Mercury Theater of the Air, 1938

Orson Welles’ radio adaptation of the H.G. Wells classic War of the Worlds is itself a classic. The program is legendary for the panic it caused in some audience members when it originally aired on October 30, 1938. Welles played the first half of the story as realistic newscasts – “regular programming” is interrupted with convincing news of invading aliens. The drama then switches point of view to Welles’ main character, who wanders about the rubble-strewn streets looking for answers.

The story of the controversy caused by the broadcast is as interesting as the broadcast itself. A national debate ensued about whether or not to regulate radio drama in all sorts of different ways. It’s main effect was to illustrate that people can’t believe everything they hear, not unlike today’s graphics technology has proved that we can’t believe everything we see.

The quality of the script and the convincing performances of Orson Welles and the actor who, as a newscaster, described the emergence of the Martians from a crater left when they landed in Grover’s Mill, New Jersey, make this one of my all-time favorite audio dramas.

This recording is available from many different sources – my copy was published by Radio Spirits.

The Science Fiction Writers Association (SFWA) gav…

April 21, 2003 by · Leave a Comment
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SFFaudio News

The Science Fiction Writers Association (SFWA) gave their Nebula Awards this weekend, and the Best Novel winner was American Gods by Neil Gaiman. HarperCollins produced an excellent unabridged audio version of the novel, read by one of the best – George Guidall. It’s also available for rental at Recorded Books.

Ursula K. LeGuin won a Grand Master Award at the same ceremony. Fantastic Audio has published several unabridged Le Guin titles, including The Birthday of the World and Other Stories and most of the incomparable Earthsea series.

Locus Magazine Online has a list of all the Nebula winners along with some pictures.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Internet radio is growing more popular and there a…

April 18, 2003 by · Leave a Comment
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SFFaudio Online Audio

Internet radio is growing more popular and there are several science fiction and fantasy related talk shows out there. My favorites are I-SCI-FI and Hour 25.

I listened to I-SCI-FI live last night – it’s “on the air” for two hours each Thursday night starting at 9pm Eastern. Last night their guests included Walter Koenig and Richard Herd, who are both going to be in Denver at a Starfest convention on April 25-27. The focus of the show is on media science fiction – Star Trek, Babylon 5, and any science fiction or fantasy currently on TV or in theaters are common topics. I-SCI-FI accepts phone calls from listeners, and they also run a chat room and webcam during the show. It’s one heck of a lot of fun and I enjoy it more and more every time I catch it. Some of their past shows available on their website. I-SCI-FI is also included in the Cosmic Landscapes rotation. More on that below…

Hour 25 is a great interview show. The guests are mostly science fiction and fantasy authors, with an occasional science guest. Warren James, a huge fan and voracious reader, insightfully interviews the guests, which include many of the top writers in the field. They’ve got a huge archive of past shows here. The website is a treasure trove of information, too – resources on each guest is provided.

If you want to sample some shows, go to Cosmic Landscapes which is a Live 365 station carrying several science fiction talk shows in rotation. They currently feature Interstellar Transmissions and Sci-Fi Overdrive (Boca Raton, FL); Destinies: The Voice of Science Fiction (Stony Brook, NY); Hour of the Wolf (NYC); Shockwave (Minn, MN); Radio Sci-Fi (Orlando, FL); The Six Siders (Salinas, CA); The Warp Zone (Wichita, KS); FanBoy Radio (Fort Worth, TX); I-Sci-Fi (Salt Lake City, UT); Sci-Fi Talk (NYC); and DragonPage (Phoenix, AZ).

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

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