Review of Neuromancer by William Gibson

January 26, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
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SFFaudio Review

TIME WARNER AUDIO - Neuromancer by William GibsonNeuromancer
By William Gibson; Read by William Gibson
4 Cassettes – Approx. 6 hours [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: Time Warner AudioBooks
Published: August 1994
ISBN: 1570420599
Themes: / Science Fiction / Cyberpunk / Dystopia / Artificial Intelligence /

Neuromancer sent massive shockwaves though science fiction and popular culture upon its release in 1984. Those shockwaves can still be felt after 20 years. Neuromancer is the tale of Case, a console cowboy, otherwise known as a computer hacker who goes on a futuristic Odyssey spanning a nihilistic near-future Earth and slightly beyond. A rich background, experimentalist prose, cuttingly future-modern dialogue and a prophetic dystopian vision combine with a heist plot reminiscent of Elmore Leonard to make a novel that will undoubtedly win William Gibson an eventual title of GRANDMASTER.

Created for the 10th anniversary of the publication of William Gibson’s first and best novel, this audiobook is a SFFaudio listener’s delight! A careful abridgment and a masterfully executed production, this is perhaps the best version of Neuromancer in any form. While Gibson is by no means a trained actor or even a professional narrator, his voice is uniquely suited to this novel and his characters. Supplementing the terrific reading is a unique soundtrack made up of two U2 remixes, which really does amazing things. Now normally I’d say that the combination of accenting music, a non-professional narrator and an abridgment of the novel all would be a recipe for disaster. But this version of Neuromancer defies all my expectations, and makes this my candidate for perhaps THE BEST ABRIDGED AUDIOBOOK EVER PRODUCED!

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Isaac Asimov’s All-Time Favorite Science Fiction Stories, Volume 1

January 19, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
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Science Fiction Audiobook - Isaac AsimovIsaac Asimov’s All-Time Favorite Science Fiction Stories, Volume 1
Ed. by Martin H. Greenberg; Read by René Auberjonois
One cassette – 60 minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Durkin Hayes Publishing Ltd.
Published: 1997 – Out Of Print
ISBN: 0886469730
Themes: / Science Fiction / Short Stories / Time Travel / Politics /

This audiobook contains two short stories:

In “Captive Market” by Philip K. Dick, an old woman gifted with precognition has previewed the futures to find one in which survivors on the radioactive Earth need supplies for their escape to a safe planet. As the proprietor of a small town country store, she has the business acuity to recognize this windfall; her canniness far outweighs any sympathy she may have for their plight. Making trip after trip into their time continuum with the supplies for which they pay in pre-war money, she selfishly refuses to tell them a vital fact she had also previewed — they will fail to escape. “Captive Market” ably demonstrates Philip K. Dick’s unique take on what is normally a by the numbers affair, the science fiction staple of time travel. He turns it on its ear to produce a great short story! “Captive Market” was first published in the magazine Worlds of If in April 1955.

Poul Anderson’s “The Last of the Deliverers”, is set a hundred years from now. Things have changed in the world, and the old rivalries between nations and ideologies are a thing of the past. But for Uncle Jim, who calls himself “a republican”, whatever that is, the old ways are the best ways. When another man, as old as Uncle Jim, showed up a great disagreement ensued after he called himself “a communist”. They both seemed to think that the fate of the community was at stake, and that if the people listen to them there would be no end of trouble. Uncle Jim insisted on something he called “capitalism”, and the communist wanted something called communism. The people all thought they were both crazy. “The Last Of The Deliverers” first appeared in The February 1958 issue of the “Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction”. Poul Anderson is probably just under the radar of a casual science fiction fan, but those who know his work and love it will love this one as much as I did. Anderson gives us a peek at ‘the long view’, and shows us how the passing of years makes fools of us all.

I have a strong affinity for obscure goodness, and this audiobook is a perfect example of exactly that. Durkin Hayes, the publisher, has been out of business for a few years now but even so, its strong line up of science fiction and fantasy short story collections are to be ignored only at extreme peril.

The Isaac Asimov’s Favorite Science Fiction Stories series ran to seven volumes, later a shorter but equally impressive follow-up series entitled Isaac Asimov Countdown 2000 ran for four volumes. Both series are actually made up of stories not by Asimov but by other authors, tales that Asimov though were important and interesting. Both of the stories in this, the first volume in the series, are performed extremely well by RenĂ© Auberjonois, best known for his role on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I highly recommended this audiobook, and the whole series, unfortunately due to Durkin Hayes being out of business you may have great difficulty finding a copy of this audiobook.

Review of Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

January 16, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
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Fantasy Audiobooks - Neverwhere by Neil GaimanNeverwhere
By Neil Gaiman; Read by Gary Bakewell
2 Cassettes; 2 hours [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: Highbridge Company
Published: 1997
ISBN: 1565112318
Themes: / Fantasy / London Underground / Magic / Urban Legend /

Neil Gaiman is certainly one of the most decorated storytellers at work today – his books seem to be on the final ballot for every conceivable award, and rightly so. His work is unique and fantastic (in both senses of the word).

Neverwhere follows part of the life of Richard Mayhew, a young businessman who lives in London. He lives a dreary life full of accounting books and deadlines, and is engaged to Jessica, who works in the art industry. His life is changed completely when he stops to help Door, a young woman he finds injured on the sidewalk. Unwittingly, he is introduced to a world he never knew existed – that of London Below. There, beneath the city, Door is not only Door, she is “Lady” Door. And an entire population lives down there, living lives unknown to those who live in London Above. Mayhew quickly finds himself hip deep in her problems as she runs from Croup and Vandemar (a pair of serial killers) and tries to solve the mystery of the murder of Door’s whole family. With them travels the Marquis of Carabas, a man willing to do much for a favor, and the famous Hunter, a female bodyguard. London Below is filled with interesting characters and more than a touch of magic.

Gary Bakewell (who plays Richard Mayhew in the BBC television series) does an excellent job with the narration. His voice drew me quickly into the wonderful strangeness. The sound effects and editing mimicked that of the television series. But, this was an abridgement. In this case, that means that the ending was rushed as events were crammed into that last quarter to make the 2-hour cut.

Having seen and enjoyed the BBC TV series, I can say that the parts that were missed along the way in this story are very worthwhile, and an unabridged version of Gaiman’s novel would be welcome. But this abridged audiobook captures the flavor of the story well. Even with the skipped events and rushed ending, the story makes sense, and it’s worth a listen.

UPDATE: This has been moved up a day to Wednesday,…

January 5, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

SFFaudio News

UPDATE: This has been moved up a day to Wednesday, January 7.

Robert J. Sawyer will be cohosting the full two hours of CBC Radio’s Toronto afternoon drive-time show “Hear and Now” with Avril Benoit on Thursday, January 8, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. “Hear and Now” is carried live on CBC Radio One Toronto, 99.1 FM, and is available through the Internet here.

Also, the radio show “Sci-Fi Overdrive” last week featured an interview with Robert J. Sawyer, and this week includes an interview with Orson Scott Card. The SciFiOverdrive website makes archived shows available for streaming.

Posted by Jesse Willis