Review of The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

August 29, 2003 by · Leave a Comment
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Science Fiction Audiobooks - The Andromeda Strain by Michael CrichtonThe Andromeda Strain
By Michael Crichton; Read by Chris Noth
2 Cassettes – 3 Hours [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: 1993
Themes: / Science Fiction / Mystery / Disease / Disaster / Scientist / Medical /

A top secret research satellite falls to Earth near a small town in Arizona. Hours later a recovery team discovers that something  has killed off the town’s entire population except for an old man and a new-born baby, statistically the most likely age groups to succumb to any normal disease. In anticipation of such an event a team of microbiologists assembles in a top-secret, underground laboratory in the Nevada desert. This laboratory was designed to handle an accidental introduction of virulent organisms into Earth’s atmosphere and ecological systems. The team begins to study the survivors and the “toxic” satellite and discovers several black/green patches of deadly bacteria that they have code-named: The Andromeda Strain.

First Published in 1969, The Andromeda Strain is one of Crichton’s best science fiction tales and a terrific scientific mystery story! As the microbiology team races against the clock, trying to figure out the toxic effect of the alien infection, the US government contemplates a nuclear cauterization of the infected crash site. But when The Andromeda Strain mutates it begins to eat through plastic lab suits and rubber gaskets protecting the scientists and the population from escaping toxins. Its a real thriller of a story, and was successfully turned into a great feature film directed by Crichton himself.

This fine novel is only available as an abridgement, and this is unfortunate. The missing portions actually improve the novel to a very large degree because the novel is written in the style of a non-fiction report of events. The original text includes, images, citations, timelines and references, their absence is a disservice to the remaining story. Chris Noth, most famous for his role on the NBC television series Law And Order, reads with a rich and compelling voice. But Noth does merely a satisfactory reading, he makes good attempts with the scientific jargon replete throughout the novel, but they are often mispronounced. Added to this is his lack of range for the voices. Given more audiobook experience Noth will probably become a good reader, in this audiobook however, his performance is merely satisfactory. All in all well worth a listen, but I sincerely hope an unabridged edition is released.

Review of Star Trek: The Next Generation: Genesis Force by John Vornholt

August 24, 2003 by · Leave a Comment
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Star Trek Audio - Genesis Force by John VornholtStar Trek: The Next Generation: Genesis Force
By John Vornholt; Read by Tim Russ
4 CD’s – 4.5 hours [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Audio
Published: 2003
Themes: / Science Fiction / Star Trek / Genetic Engineering / Planet Destruction /

This book is the fourth in John Vornholt’s Genesis Wave series, which are all available on audio. It is a stand-alone novel about the inhabitants of the planet Aluwna, which finds itself in the path of the ultra-destructive Genesis Wave, which was created in the previous novels in the series. This book mainly involves characters from this planet, as they figure out how to save as many of their race as possible and then deal with the aftermath of the Wave’s passage.

Genesis Force is a very satisfying novel in it’s own right. The story is fast-paced and the stakes high for the rulers and inhabitants of Aluwna. Ambassador Worf and a fleet of Klingon warships play an important role, and we are given a good look at Worf’s relationship with his sons, along with a rare view of Klingons who have arrived to help, not to destroy.

Tim Russ is a very skilled narrator. I’d enjoy hearing more of his narration both in and outside of Star Trek.

See more about audio Star Trek on SFFAudio’s Star Trek page

Review of The Voice from the Edge Vol 1: I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison

August 22, 2003 by · Leave a Comment
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Science Fiction Audiobooks - The Voice from the Edge Vol 1 by Harlan EllisonThe Voice from the Edge Vol 1: I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream
By Harlan Ellison; Read by Harlan Ellison
5 CD’s – 6 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Fantastic Audio
Published: 2002
Themes: / Science Fiction / Fantasy / Short Stories / Artificial Intelligence / Time / Demons /

This is a collection of Harlan Ellison’s best (well… most popular) stories. The most oft-reprinted tales are here, among them: “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream”, “‘Repent, Harlequin,’ Said the Ticktockman”, “Paladin of the Lost Hour”, and “A Boy and His Dog”. The stories are read by the author, who himself is a first-rate reader, lending an infectious energy to every story in the collection.

I personally know of no other author’s stories with which to compare Harlan Ellison’s. He’s arguably the finest writer of short fiction on the planet, building stories of great impact in such a short space. In “‘Repent, Harlequin'”, he gives us a parable of society’s dependence on the clock, making schedules look ridiculous enough to make one wonder what the heck we’re all doing. And this was written in the 1960’s! In “Paladin of the Lost Hour”, a man is given responsibility over the world’s last hour. The characters in “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” are trapped by a malevolent computer. These are great stories, every one. I thoroughly enjoyed this collection.

Stories included in the collection: “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream”, “Laugh Track”, “Grail”, “‘Repent, Harlequin,’ Said the Ticktockman”, The Very Last Day of a Good Woman”, “Paladin of the Lost Hour”, “The Time of the Eye”, “The Lingering Scent of Woodsmoke”, and “A Boy and His Dog”.

CBC Radio One has posted a series of interesting a…

August 16, 2003 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

CBC Radio One has posted a series of interesting and quite funny conversations with William Gibson about his novel Pattern Recognition. Here are the links:

|Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 |

Also from CBC Radio One, a 54 minute exploration of the future of textiles! Strange topic, but its quite good. Produced by the always fascinating IDEAS program. Here is the blurb:

THOUGHTS ON THREADS – broadcast on IDEAS April 29, 2002

Will everyone eventually dress like characters on Star Trek? Will synthetics completely replace natural fibres? What is the future of biotextiles and electrotextiles? Ian Clayton investigates the crossover between the science and the science fiction of clothing. Listen to this program in real time (54:20)

While not quite science fiction CBC Radio One‘s program Quirks & Quarks is always popular among Canadian science fiction fans. Here’s an idea of what its all about “For a quarter of a century Quirks & Quarks has brought its listeners to the cutting edge of scientific inquiry. Every week, the program presents the people behind the latest discoveries in the physical and natural sciences – from the smallest sub-atomic particle to the largest objects in the sky and everything in between. The program also examines the political, social, environmental and ethical implications of new developments in science and technology. Quirks & Quarks is a program for people fascinated by the world above, below and around them. And you don’t need a PhD to enjoy it.”

And like all CBC Radio One programs you can listen online live, and listen to past shows.

Posted by Jesse Willis

We made several minor changes throughout the site,…

August 14, 2003 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

We made several minor changes throughout the site, hopefully making it a bit easier to navigate. The most significant additions are a Blackstone Audio review page here and a Recorded Books review page here. We’ll create those for other publishers too as we review more and more. Also, we added a Star Trek page here, which we hope to keep updated with the very latest.

Thanks for visiting!

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Science Fiction: The Literature of the Technological Imagination by Eric S. Rabkin

August 12, 2003 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

Audio Lectures Review

Non-fiction - Science Fiction: The Literature of the Technological Imagination by Eric RabkinScience Fiction: The Literature of the Technological Imagination
By Eric S. Rabkin; Read by Eric S. Rabkin
8 cassettes – 4 hours (8 half-hour lectures) [LECTURES]
Publisher: The Teaching Company
Published: 1999
Themes: / Non-Fiction / Science Fiction / Pulp / Hard SF / Cyberpunk / Utopia / Dystopia /

This one is a little different than our usual fiction reviews. Science Fiction: The Literature of the Technological Imagination is a non-fiction series of lectures about the origins, history, and influence of science fiction. Think of it as Science Fiction 101 and you’ll get the idea. As a course it fulfills the promise of its title, breaking down the origins and the meanings within in science fiction literature. Professor Rabkin is a talented lecturer. Though obviously scripted, his naturalistic lectures are thoroughly engaging. The lectures explore the history of science fiction back to its origins in Plato’s Republic, then steadily marches all the way to William Gibson’s Neuromancer. These lectures offer genuinely interesting insight, I learned something interesting in each and every lecture! Rabkin discusses the first science fiction novel, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, examines the pulp phenomena of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and gives examples of what makes hard SF “hard”. He looks at the social, technological, and literary forces that influenced the genre’s authors, and in doing so tells an entertaining story – the story of science fiction! In short, it’s a fascinating listen. I just wish that Rabkin would offer Science Fiction 201 next semester! Each half hour lecture could have easily been expanded into 2 hours.

The lectures are titled:

Lecture 1: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the Emergence of Science Fiction
Lecture 2: Jules Verne and the Popular Passion for Science
Lecture 3: H.G. Wells and Science Fiction Parables of Social Criticism
Lecture 4: Pulp Culture, World War II, and the Ascendancy of American Science Fiction
Lecture 5: And the Winner Is…Robert A. Heinlein
Lecture 6: Ray Bradbury, Ursula K. LeGuin, and the Expansion of Science Fiction
Lecture 7: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Modern Science Fiction Film
Lecture 8: New Wave, Cyberpunk, and Our Science Fiction World

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