One of the nice things about public radio is often…

July 31, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

One of the nice things about public radio is often their hosts are able to persue their own interests. David Garland, the host of the WNYC (New York City’s National Public Radio affiliate) program SPINNING ON AIR populates his weekly two hour broadcasts with music, interviews and readings. Garland has worked in comics, is a successful musician and lyricist, and has read science fiction and fantasy extensively. When he interviews his guests, his abundant familiarity with their work makes the interviewees comfortable and able to talk in depth – something typically absent from commercial radio. Subjects covered on SPINNING ON AIR have included filk music, science fiction in music, science fiction satire, science fiction movie music, and readings of both science fiction and fantasy fiction. New shows air Fridays from 9PM-11PM EST on 93.9 FM in New York City. You can also listen online, or listen to archived shows.

Here are some of the most interesting shows of the last three years:

Music and Science Fiction – Jul. 12, 2002

LISTEN TO THE ARCHIVED SHOW:

http://www.wnyc.org/shows/spinning/episodes/07122002

Science Fiction Author William Tenn – Nov. 22nd 2002

LISTEN TO THE ARCHIVED SHOW:

http://www.wnyc.org/shows/spinning/episodes/11222002

Catskin (a fantasy story by Kelly Link) – Oct. 31, 2004

LISTEN TO THE ARCHIVED SHOW:

http://www.wnyc.org/shows/spinning/episodes/10312003

Philip K. Dick Loved Music, and Music Loves Him – Jan. 02, 2004

LISTEN TO THE ARCHIVED SHOW:

http://www.wnyc.org/shows/spinning/episodes/01022004

Review of Star Trek: Vulcan’s Soul by Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz

July 29, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

Star Trek Audiobooks - Star Trek Vulcan's SoulStar Trek: Vulcan’s Soul Book I: Exodus
By Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz; Read by Boyd Gaines
3 Cassettes or 4 CD’s, 4 hours [ABRIDGED]
ISBN: 0743529995 (Cassette), 0743530004 (CD)
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Audio
Published: 2004
Themes: / Star Trek / Vulcans / Aliens /

A disheartening thing about being a fan of Star Trek is that one of its most beloved characters, Spock, has been left with an unfinished story. The last time we saw him on the screen was during the two-part Star Trek: The Next Generation episode entitled Unification. That the ratings for that episode are among the best Star Trek has ever gotten demonstrates the fan’s desire to see more of Spock. Alas, the business world encroaches, and for whatever reason, Spock was left on Romulus, his fate uncertain.

Enter Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz. Their previous two Star Trek novels, Vulcan’s Forge and Vulcan’s Heart (both available on audio) were excellent science fiction, focusing on Spock in particular and Vulcan culture in general. Vulcan’s Soul Book 1: Exodus continues that story in the same manner, focusing both on the character of Spock and the Vulcan world during the time of Surak, the great Vulcan philosopher who championed logic over emotion, and to whom we were first introduced during the Original Series.

The story takes place one year after the Dominion War. A hostile and powerful race called the Watarii, claiming to have an ancient score to settle with the Romulans, invade Romulan space. Spock and his wife, Captain Saavik, swoop in to help, enlisting the assistance of old friends Admiral Uhura and Admiral Chekov. They work to unravel the mystery of the Watarii while doing their best to assist in defending against them. Frequent flashbacks tell the interwoven story of Surak’s effect on the planet Vulcan.

The story is fast paced and extremely well-read by Boyd Gaines. The sound effects and music typical of previous Star Trek audiobooks is also present, effectively used to establish setting and tone.

My only quibble with this one is that I hadn’t heard from Uhura and Chekov in so long that I had to seriously question whether or not they would be alive one year after the Dominion War. The answer is: apparently so. They’d be over 150 years old, but possibly still kicking. Uhura is mentioned in a previous novel (Catalyst of Sorrows) as being the “centenarian head of Starfleet Intelligence.” I’m certainly finding this kind of thing old. I assume Sherman and Shwartz have a valid reason for using these two particular characters, but I’m currently not sure why they would bring yet another couple of TOS characters into the TNG/DS9/VOY era rather than using some contemporary characters from other series. Perhaps the Enterprise-A encountered some kind of strange nebula which had a hypnotic effect that prevents these folks from retiring… Another story, perhaps.

Other than that annoyance, this was a very good Star Trek novel with lots of Vulcan mythos, lots of eyebrow-raising conundrum, and a fantastic battle scene.

Find more on Star Trek audiobooks here!

(I’d like to acknowledge the kind assistance of Scott Armstrong, who did some research for me for this review. Any mistakes, of course, are my own.)

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Solution Unsatisfactory

July 27, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Uncategorized 

Solution Unsatisfactory
Adapted by Daniel Taylor from the short story by Robert A. Heinlein; Full Cast Production
1 CD – 68 Minutes UNABRIDGED
Publisher: Atlanta Radio Theater Company
Published: 2003
ISBN: 0929483316
Themes: / Science Fiction / WWII / Nuclear Holocaust / Time Travel /

Solution Unsatisfactory describes an American supersecret project to develop an atomic superweapon that proves vital to the Allied triumph of World War II. ‘So what,’ you say. ‘That’s old news.’ And you’d be right, the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 were the final nails in the coffin of WWII. But what’s weird is, Solution Unsatisfactory was published in 1940, a full half decade before the atom bomb was even known to exists by the general public. What’s more, Heinlein’s story goes on to foresee the coming cold war with the Soviet Union and the concomitant race to arm with atomic weapons. Heinlein’s story doesn’t actually foretell the same events that happened, but the similarities are pretty eerie.

Daniel Taylor and the Atlanta Radio Theater Company have gone to great lengths to perform this difficult-to-adapt tale. Heinlein’s original short story is full of lots of exposition and less dialogue, and it takes place over a number of years, so Taylor has been forced to use propaganda radio transmissions and news bulletins to inform dramatically. The dramatization sounds crystal clear, performances are impactful and it follows the spirit of the text quite faithfully. The audiobook comes packaged in a DVD style amaray case with liner notes on the inside – a very cool idea. For the longest time the colourful cover art really baffled me, I figured it was like a Rorschach, but actually its not projective at all, I just was looking at it wrong. ARTC should be proud of themselves, Solution Unsatisfactory is a chilling reminder of how prescient science fiction can be, and more importantly, how it can serve as a warning.

Also included on the CD are two other shorter dramatizations. The Assassins by Gerald W. Page, a time-travel tale which is highly enjoyable, though predictable. It starts off at a convention of scientists where the topic of the day is to change the present by means of selective historical assassination. It ends in a familiar place. The final dramatization on the CD is the whimsical Grandma’s Diary by Daniel Taylor, which is neither SF or Fantasy, but entertaining.

As with other ARTC productions Solution Unsatisfactory needs a particular environment for maximum enjoyment. Cut out ambient background noise – use snug fitting headphones or a very quiet room (no white noise producers like ceiling fans for instance) with a solid pair of high fidelity speakers.

Posted by Jesse Willis

John Joseph Adams has started a new column on audi…

July 25, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

SFFaudio News

John Joseph Adams has started a new column on audiobooks for Locus Magazine. It appeared in the July issue, and has just been posted on the magazine’s website. Click here for the complete column. It’s great to see some audiobook coverage in Locus!

In my review of the unabridged version of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, I stated that this was the only audio version of Salem’s Lot of which I was aware. A reader from the UK informs me that Salem’s Lot was dramatized as a BBC Radio production in the mid 1990’s, but was unsure whether or not it was made available for sale anywhere. Anybody out there know? If so, drop me note! Better yet, send me your copy so I can hear it… :)

All my best, everybody, and thanks for visiting!

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

July 22, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

Salem’s Lot
By Stephen King; Read by Ron McLarty
11 Cassettes – 17.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Audio
Published: 2004
ISBN: 0743536959
Themes: / Horror / Vampires / Maine / Small town /

Simon and Schuster recently published this unabridged version of ‘Salem’s Lot, the only appearance of this 1975 Stephen King novel on audio of which I’m aware. This is the second novel published by King, and in my opinion is one of his finest.

Ben Mears, a successful author, returns to the small town of Jerusalem’s Lot to research a book he’s writing. Things get complicated quickly when a man named Barlow moves into town and folks start disappearing. Even more complicated – they start re-appearing. As vampires. As Ben Mears absorbs this fact, he meets the young Mark Petrie, and together they fight Barlow and his growing army.

The characters are the most striking attribute of any Stephen King novel, and this early novel is no exception. The numerous characters breathe with detail, and they all seem like people that I’ve met or could meet today. King lays the small town of Salem’s Lot out for all to see, warts and all, and then commences to destroying it while the reader watches. The actions and fates of the small town characters King has brought to life are where the story lies – not in Barlow himself.

Ron McLarty performs the novel, and does a fine job of it. He handles all the characters with great skill, reading in a clear and often tense manner. As you can probably tell, I really like Salem’s Lot. It’s one of the few novels that I revisit every so often. McLarty treated it well, and I thank him.

Now, I’d love to hear an unabridged audio version of the other two of what I’ve heard called King’s Trinity: one of The Shining, and one of the uncut version of The Stand. I’ll wait patiently…

NOTE: Did anyone catch that recent USA Network TV version of Salem’s Lot? Why the heck did they change so many small details? OK, OK, it’s a different medium, yadda yadda yadda, but wow. They had a perfectly good story to start with. ‘Nuff said. Back to the audio.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of The Adventures of Superman

July 20, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Reviews 

The Adventures of Superman
Written and Directed by Dirk Maggs; Starring a Full Cast
2 Cassettes – 2.5 Hours [AUDIO DRAMA]
ISBN: 056339370X
Publisher: BBC
Published: 1994
Themes: / Fantasy / Superhero / Comics / Audio Drama /

This BBC radio drama (originally heard on BBC Radio 1 FM) tells the story of Superman from his first appearance in the skies to his battles with Lex Luthor, The Bizarro Superman, and Metallo. Dirk Maggs adapted and directed the script, from stories written by John Byrne, Dave Gibbons, and Jerry Ordway, published by DC Comics.

The production is strikingly effective. On the back cover of the package, it says, “A movie without pictures – you won’t believe your ears!” That’s not rhetoric – this audio drama plays exactly like a movie. Scene changes are made, setting is established, and special effects all executed with sound. With headphones on and eyes closed, you can practically see the screen in front you. And the acting is uniformly excellent. Remarkable!

I enjoyed the production much more than I expected to, because not only did it sound great, the story was great too. The tale begins with the first appearance of Superman as he saves a supersonic jet from destruction. From there, Clark Kent sets up his alter ego, dons his costume, then spends the rest of the story fighting Lex Luthor (and his creations) while discovering his own origins. The entire thing was executed brilliantly, and the result is a production that I enjoyed more than any Superman film I’ve seen.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

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