Audio Renaissance (http://www.audiorenaissance.com…

September 29, 2004 by · 16 Comments
Filed under: New Releases 

New Releases

Audio Renaissance (http://www.audiorenaissance.com) has announced its new releases for Winter 2005, and it looks like they are taking over some of the Fantastic Audio titles. These are all CD only releases, no cassettes at all, and every single one is completely unabridged. The titles announced include the three “Asteroids Wars” novels by Ben Bova with what appears to be dual narration. In either case, its great to see unabridged novels becoming the new accepted standard. Personally I’m not too upset at the limited format release, if it comes down to a choice between CDs and cassettes, these days I’d choose CDs, as they are more portable to the increasingly populare MP3 audiobook format.

The titles announced include the three “Asteroids Wars” novels by Ben Bova (a subset of the Grand Tour series):

The Precipice
By Ben Bova – Read by Scott Brick and Amanda Karr
10 CDs – Approx. 12 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audio Renaissance
Published: February 2005
ISBN: 1593974906
The first novel of the Asteroid Wars. Once, Dan Randolph was one of the richest men on Earth. Now the planet is spiraling into environmental disaster, with floods and earthquakes destroying the lives of millions. Martin Humphries, fabulously wealthy heir of the Humphries Trust, also knows that space-based industry is the way of the future. But unlike Randolph he does not care if Earth perishes in the process. As Randolph-accompanied by two brilliant women astronauts-flies out to the Asteroid Belt aboard a fusion-propelled spacecraft, Humphries makes his move. The future of mankind lies in Randolph’s hands.

The Rock Rats
By Ben Bova – Read by Ira Klaffey and Amanda Karr
9 CDs – Approx. 10 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audio Renaissance
Published: February 2005
ISBN: 1593974922
The second novel of the Asteroid Wars. Visionary space industrialist Dan Randolph is dead-but his protégé, pilot Pancho Barnes, now sits on the board of his conglomerate. She has her work cut out for her-for Randolph’s rival, Martin Humphries, still wants to control Astro and still wants to drive independent asteroid miners like Lars Fuchs out of business. Humphries wants revenge against Pancho-and, most of all, he wants his old flame, Amanda, who has become Lars Fuchs’s wife. Before it ends, many will die-and many will achieve more than they ever dreamed was possible.

The Silent War
By Ben Bova – Read by Christian Noble and Amanda Karr
11 CDs – Approx. 13 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audio Renaissance
Published: February 2005
ISBN: 159397504X
The third novel of the Asteroid Wars. When corporations go to war, standard business practice goes out the window. Astro Corporation is led by indomitable Texan Pancho Lane, Humphries Space Systems by the rich and ruthless Martin Humphries, and their fight is over nothing less than resources of the Asteroid Belt itself. Fighting escalates and the lines between commerce and politics, boardroom and bedroom, blur-and the keys to victory will include physics, nanotechnology, and cold hard cash. It’s a breakneck finale that can end only in earth’s salvation-or the annihilation of all that humankind has ever accomplished in space.

And the newest volume in the ongoing Ender Wiggin Saga:

Shadow Of The Giant
By Orson Scott Card; Read by TBA (To Be Announced)
9 CDs – Approx. 11 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audio Renaissance
Published: March 2005
ISBN: 1593974965
Bean, once the smallest student at the Battle School, and Ender Wiggins’ right hand, has grown to be a power on Earth. He served the Hegemon as strategist and general in the terrible wars that followed Ender’s defeat of the alien empire attacking Earth. Now he wishes for a safe place to build a family-something he has never known-but there is nowhere on Earth that does not harbor his enemies-old enemies from the days in Ender’s Jeesh, new enemies from the wars on Earth. To find security, Bean and Petra must once again follow in Ender’s footsteps. They must leave Earth behind, in the control of the Hegemon, and look to the stars.

Also forthcoming, book five in The Wheel Of Time series:

The Fires Of Heaven
By Robert Jordan; Read by Kate Reading and Michael Kramer
32 CDs – Approx. 39 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audio Renaissance
Published: April 2005
ISBN: 1559276062
Robert Jordan again plunges us into his extraordinarily rich, totally unforgettable world: …Into the forbidden city of Rhuidean, where Rand al’Thor, now the Dragon Reborn, must conceal his present endeavor from all about him, even Egwene and Moiraine….Into the Amyrlin’s study in the White Tower, where Amyrlin, Flaida do Avriny a ‘Roihan, is weaving new plans. …Into the luxurious hidden chamber where the Forsaken Rahvin is meeting withthree of his fellows to ensure their ultimate victory over the Dragon….Into the Queen’s court in Caemlyn, where Morgase is curiously in thrall to the handsome Lord Gaebril. For once the Dragon walks the land, the fires of Heaven fall where they will, until all men’s lives are ablaze. And in Shayol Ghul, the Dark One stirs…

Any listeners interested in pre-ordering any of these titles can join the SFFAUDIO Yahoo! Group where an exclusive 25% discount will be offered to members in early November 2004!

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

I consider myself lucky to have seen Posing as Peo…

September 27, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

SFFaudio News

I consider myself lucky to have seen Posing as People last weekend in Los Angeles. If you are in the area, I urge you to check it out. Posing as People is a theatrical adaptation of three Orson Scott Card short stories – “Clap Hands and Sing”, “Lifeloop”, and “Sepluchre of Songs”.

I am no professional theater critic, but I do have plenty of mainstream (community and professional) theater-going experience. I found Posing As People to be intimate, affecting science fiction presented in a medium in which I’d never seen it. I found the performances powerful, the material moving. It worked beautifully.

What does all this have to do with science fiction audio? Well, it stars Scott Brick, one of the finest narrators out there. He also wrote one of the adaptations. It also stars Stefan Rudnicki of Skyboat Road, who has skillfully produced and narrated many audiobooks, including Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, a personal favorite of mine.

More info on the production (including a few reviews, some pictures, and some MP3 clips) can be found at Orson Scott Card’s website. The production runs through October 16 at the Whitefire Theater in Sherman Oaks, CA.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Volitar: Murder, Mystery, Mayhem Music

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

Volitar: Murder, Mystery, Mayhem
Music by Andrew Engstrom; Dramatic scenes performed by a full cast
1 Music CD with dramatized connecting scenes – 47 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: www.volitar.com
Published: 2002
UPC: 803680208120
Themes: / Music / Science Fiction / Experimental / Mystery / Suspended Animation / Aliens /

“Well according to the Navi-computer we’re right on target Mr. Braiden. We should be landing on Volitar in oh…. a quick year and a half.”

The year is 2117. Mining moon owner Trevor Braiden, along with planetary geologist Dr. Desiree Lear, return to Volitar in search of a new mining site. Just hours after their arrival a bomb blast rips through the mining compound leaving Trevor bewildered from the loss of his best friend. Someone is trying to him, but why?

Tracks included:
1. Blast-off
2. Deep Freeze
3. Soul Searching
4. Landing
5. Gateway Theatre
6. Faces
7. The Secret
8. Just One Look
9. Machine Shop
10. Nightmare
11. Laser Research
12. The Fire of Section 17
13. Dead
14. Mourning
15. Desiree For Dessert
16. Free

Volitar’s creator, Andrew Engstrom, wrote this concept album as a hybrid between science fiction audio drama and straight rock music CD. He personally wrote and played multiple instruments in all of the songs, sang in others, co-wrote the dramatic storyline and even performed the lead character’s role. I’m of two minds on this one, I liked the idea, though I admit to not being a devotee of the concept album, but I didn’t come away from it thoroughly convinced. The dramatic elements are probably most to blame here. Unfortunately Engstrom came up with a milieu and some characters but the story isn’t quite finished. What little of it I could follow didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, and each of the eight dramatic scenes that it is composed of seemed to be written only as introduction to the following song. One example of this is where our characters go into a seedy bar, where an alien rock group is just taking the stage. Before the band starts to play one of the characters asks another to dance. – Cue the music track. – After that song finishes, they tell each other how much they enjoyed the dance they just had and ask to dance again…

While I really and truly appreciated the enthusiasm and the follow through in production of the CD and fit and finish of the packaging, the content itself left me bewildered. The voice acting was only fair and for some scenes the actors sounded like they were simply reading their lines straight off the page. And though the album was recorded between 1998 and 2002, the music felt very 1985, with lots of heavy metal riffs and indecipherable or inaudible lyrics. Not my favorite. But then my tastes in music may not be yours; several other reviewers have noted how much they enjoyed the music. Musically it may work well for you. As far as the fiction goes … I like to be able to follow the story. And I couldn’t here. BUT, taking it in as a serious attempt at SF, that should be followable may have been a mistake on my part.

Becky Jo Engstrom, who plays one of the characters, noted in an exclusive audio interview available with the bonus eBook CD “The Making of Volitar,” that they planned the CD as an homage to “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and the ‘B-movie’ influences of their youth. So, if before you insert the CD and hit play, you tell yourself, ‘this is light entertainment, just music with dramatic scenes’ and not ‘dramatic scenes with music’, you may have a heck of a lot of fun with it! As an aside, special mention should go to artist, Bud Curtis (http://www.alaskagrafix.com/), who’s responsible for the CD’s digital imagery in the fold out packaging; he’s done a terrific job! I found the bonus eBook quite interesting too, well presented and chock full of production details. Andrew Engstrom and his team seem like really cool people and I look forward to their follow up album tentatively titled “Volitar: War In Ganthros.”

Posted by Jesse Willis

The latest incarnation of Amazing Stories magazine…

September 20, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

SFFaudio News

The latest incarnation of Amazing Stories magazine includes audiobook reviews in their content. They’ve published two issues so far, and it’s a good magazine with a wide range of coverage: fiction, TV, movies, games… and audio! Find it on your newsstand or at Paizo Publishing’s website.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

DON’T PANIC! The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Gala…

September 19, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

BBC Radio 4

DON’T PANIC!

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio saga continues this week on BBC Radio 4. Click here for BBC Radio 4’s Hitchhiker page.

The episode will air on September 21 at 6:30pm (England time) and with repeats on Thursdays at 11:00pm. Each episode will be available online for 7 days after the Thursday repeat. Check their website for full details.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Dune By Frank Herbert

September 19, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

Science Fiction Audiobooks - Dune by Frank HerbertDune
By Frank Herbert; Read by George Guidall
16 Cassettes – 24 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books
ISBN: 0788763334
Date Published: 1998
Themes: / Science Fiction / Politics / Space travel / Culture / Ecology /

George Guidall is a tremendous narrator. His nuanced performances continually make his audiobooks easy on the ear yet insistent – his performances demand attention. Matched with the Frank Herbert’s Dune… well, this is as good as it gets, folks. A detailed, meaningful, and entertaining piece of science fiction performed by a narrator with fine voice, excellent timing, and utmost attention to those very details… magnificent.

Dune is a masterpiece of world-building. In the novel, Frank
Herbert creates Arrakis, the desert planet that is also called Dune.
The natives of this planet are people called Fremen, a mysterious desert-dwelling people that the characters in this novel don’t fully understand, at least at the beginning. They are proud people, and though a family from the galactic empire rules them, they project an aura of power and resiliency. Arrakis is important to the galactic empire because it is the world where Spice is mined. Spice is of supreme importance in Herbert’s universe for a host of reasons I won’t list here.

The fully realized culture of Arrakis is merely backdrop at the beginning of the novel, which immediately takes up the story of Paul Atreides, son of Duke Atreides. The Atreides family takes over as the ruling family of Arrakis from a rival family called the Harkonnens. From the moment they arrive on Arrakis, the Fremen treat Paul in a special way, since Paul fits the description of someone for which the Fremen have been waiting a long time. The story follows Paul from his departure from his home planet to his arrival on Arrakis and his eventual survival in the desert, during which much about the fascinating culture of the Fremen is revealed.

Frank Herbert wrote a novel here that works on so many levels that it can be read several times. From one angle, you’ve got a novel about the effects of a Messiah on a culture. From another, you’ve got an ecological novel about survival in a desert and the ethical questions about whether to disturb that harsh but natural environment to make it more habitable for humans. Still another gives you a novel of brutal political intrigue as Harkonnen plots against Atreides (and vice versa) in the pursuit of the power that is ownership of the Spice. Each of these subplots is fully developed an intertwined with the others in this novel, which succeeds in every way in print and now succeeds again as an audiobook thanks to the wonderful performance of George Guidall.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

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