Review of Night On Mispec Moor By Larry Niven

October 27, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

Night on Mispec Moor by Larry NivenNight On Mispec Moor
By Larry Niven, Read by Warren James
ARCHIVED ONLINE – Click here to visit Hour 25 and listen
27 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Hour25Online.com
Published: 2001
Themes: / Horror / Science Fiction / War /

“Now I know that most of you quite rightly associate Larry’s writings with hard SF, not horror. But that doesn’t mean he can’t write a cracking good horror yarn when he sets his mind to it. But being one of the premiere writers of hard SF; when he writes horror it’s with his own unique twist. In Night on Mispec Moor Larry tells a tale about a man trapped in a place where the fog lies thick and close to the ground and where the dead really return to life. And though this story is most certainly horror, it is also hard SF. Way cool and highly memorable.”
-Warren James, Hour 25

For the 2001 Halloween broadcast of Hour 25, Warren James, the show’s host, with the kind permission of author Larry Niven, read the short story “Night On Mispec Moor”. This excellent tale was first published in Vertex Magazine‘s August 1974 issue. Thankfully, internet archiving allows us to still listen to this gem of a story! And though Warren James is not a professional audiobook narrator, his reading is a good! One minor issue though – as with any Hour 25 broadcast the volume has to be turned way up and there is some digitization to the sound. James also includes a short introduction to the story, and its well worth hearing. So if your in the mood for a really spooky hard SF horror story check it out.

Posted by Jesse Willis

ITConversations debuted a new online audio intervi…

October 26, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

ITConversations debuted a new online audio interview show this week called Voices in Your Head. The description:

Can you hear it, even as you read this, speaking to you inside your mind? What are those Voices in Your Head? Host Dave Slusher interviews writers, musicians and other creative people about the effect of technology on their art and vice versa.

Dave Slusher’s first guest is SF author James Patrick Kelly.

Click here to go to ITConversations and listen to the show!

And while we’re on the subject, the best SF interview show online is Hour 25. Their latest interview is with Laurell K. Hamilton.

Posted by Jesse Willis

From the Toot Our Own Horn Department… Announcing…

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

SFFaudio News

Deuce AudioFrom the Toot Our Own Horn Department… Announcing Deuce Audio!

The first two titles from our very own audiobook company, Deuce Audio, are available as of today for download from Fictionwise! They are: The Retrieval Artist by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, read by Stefan Rudnicki (2 hours, $4.99) and Shed Skin by Robert J. Sawyer, read by Stephen Hoye (45 minutes, $2.99).

Our goal is produce great audiobooks using excellent stories, performed by professionals, and at the best possible price. We hope you like them!

Though we’ve taken this baby step into publishing, be assured that SFFAudio will continue. Because we do this for the love of the stories and how they are told, we don’t expect our Deuce Audio publications to influence our objectivity when reviewing other titles. We certainly won’t review our own titles here (unless we find an independent voice to do so), nor will we fill your screen with “Buy me!” pop-ups. SFFAudio is a site for fans of science fiction and fantasy audio in all its forms, and it will remain just that.

All my best, everyone, and thanks for visiting SFFAudio!

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Ringworld’s Children by Larry Niven

October 21, 2004 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Ringworld's Children by Larry NivenRingworld’s Children
By Larry Niven; Read by Barrett Whitener
8 CDs – Approx. 9.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2004
ISBN: 0786185384
Themes: / Science Fiction / Hard SF / Physics / Genetics / Aliens / Nanotechnology / Evolution /

The Ringworld is a landmark engineering achievement, a flat band three million times the surface of the Earth, encircling a distant star. Home to trillions of inhabitants, not all of whom are human, and host to amazing technological wonders, the Ringworld is unique in all of the universe.

The blurb above is a bit of a lie, no longer is Ringworld unique. There is Rama, Arthur C. Clarke’s giant tube shaped alien habitat, Bob Shaw’s Orbitsville, a huge Dyson’s Sphere built by mysterious aliens and the hungry alien construct called Gaea of John Varley’s Titan. Indeed, there have also been three other books in the Ringworld series – admittedly all of them are set on the same Ringworld. But the first Ringworld novel, published in 1970, was the first of this new kind of SF novel; the novel of the big big thoughts, or as David Gerrold calls it, “the enormous big thing”. An idea, a ‘what if’ so massive and so imaginative, so rife with unforeseen consequences that the characters must investigate it just as we do. Kind of like science fiction for science fiction characters! Ringworld was such a big idea in fact, that the three sequel novels were published in an effort to examine the impossible gigantitude of the consequences of its existence. In this the fourth, and perhaps final installment of the Ringworld series, we see more of the problems of existence of such a structure fixed, visit with old characters (Louis Wu, Acolyte, The Hindmost and Tunesmith being major players) and meet some new ones too. There are some genuine surprises here, and some edge of your seat excitement, but as with the previous two sequels the biggest surprise is still the same one from the first novel – and that of course is, just how massively huge the Ringworld is! Its size still staggers the imagination… a narrow ring, only 0.997×106 miles wide, with two perimeter walls climbing 1000 miles high, to hold in the air, the ring itself is 93 million miles in radius, a single spinning world shaped like a ribbon around a star – with a habitable area of over 3 million Earths. What couldn’t happen in a place that big?

Author Larry Niven cemented himself as the standard barer of Hard Science Fiction, with the publication of Ringworld. If he had done nothing else, he’d still be thought of as a prodigious figure in the field. But he’s not rested upon his laurels; he’s expanded, refined and continued the Ringworld adventure. In a way, that was a mistake. You can’t top an idea this big by telling more adventures about the same world. On the other hand, I personally wouldn’t have had it any other way. I enjoyed nearly every minute of the nine and a half hours of listening in Ringworld’s Children. In fact, I would have been happy with another nine hours! There were a few parts that were dry, sure, but they didn’t last very long and they moved the plot along. I do wish Niven had spent some more time exploring the inhabitants of his creation; we meet only a few new hominid species, and unlike in previous installments, we don’t get a full sense of their ecological niches. But given that much of the action takes place in space around the Ringworld perhaps it couldn’t be helped. Much of this action is necessary though as many threads from the previous two sequels needed tying up, especially if this is indeed the final chapter in the Ringworld series.

Barrett Whitener, who seems to be recording nearly every Blackstone science fiction title coming out these days, was actually not a great choice as reader for Ringworld’s Children. It’s not that his reading is poor – it wasn’t. In fact, I like the way Whitener read it, I just think that his tone was all wrong for this particular novel. His various alien voices didn’t sound at all alien. Mark Sherman, who did such a terrific job with the alien voices in Larry Niven’s Protector (also recorded for Blackstone Audio) would have been a much better choice to give voice to Ringworld’s Children and its many alien characters. That said, I still enjoyed the heck out of the audiobook, and I can’t fault Whitener’s performance in the least. When the numbers and the physics are coming fast and furious it’s nice to be given the words by a good reader who can handle the text. Ringworld’s Children, all in all, is truly a worthy addition to the Ringworld novels. Long live Larry Niven!

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Adventures in Time and Space with Max Merriwell by Pat Murphy

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

Adventures in Time and Space with Max Merriwell by Pat MurphyAdventures in Time and Space with Max Merriwell
By Pat Murphy; Read by Johanna Ward
7 Cassettes – Approx. 9.5 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
ISBN: 0783128577
Date Published: 2004
Themes: / Science Fiction / Quantum Physics / Pseudonyms / Multiple Universes / The Nature of Fiction /

In this novel by Pat Murphy, the main character (Susan) and her friend Pat (er… Pat Murphy) take a cruise from New York to Europe. On this cruise is a fiction writer named Max Merriwell who offers a writing class that an uncertain Susan is eager to take. Max Merriwell writes not only under his own name, but also under the pseudonyms Mary Maxwell and Welton Merrimax. Rather quickly, Welton Merrimax starts to appear at various places on the cruise ship, and so does Mary Maxwell, which confuses everyone because, well, they’re supposed to be just pseudonyms. Thus begins an entertaining, wild ride of a novel in which alternate realities intersect and events from Max’s novels start to become real.

I went to Pat Murphy’s website and was pleased to find out that the novel is the third book in a wild experiment. Pat Murphy says, “Adventures in Time and Space with Max Merriwell is an adventure story about the nature of fiction.” This nugget opened up so much more of the novel for me – enough so that I’m eager to listen again. It turns out that Murphy published three novels: There and Back Again by Max Merriwell (which is described as the story of The Hobbit retold as space opera), Wild Angel (which “borrows its premise from Tarzan of the Apes“) by Mary Maxwell (a pseudonym for Max Merriwell), and this novel, Adventures in Time and Space with Max Merriwell by Pat Murphy. All the novels were published as written by Pat Murphy because her publisher felt the confusion would be too great to overcome here in the real world. Click here for some notes on Pat Murphy’s (who apparently is real) website to unravel the full story.

With all that said, this delightfully quirky novel works stand-alone. I enjoyed it enough to desire the added depth that finding and reading these other two books and re-listening to this one will undoubtedly provide. Listening again will be a pleasure because Johanna Ward performs well, deftly handling the mayhem that must have had her scratching her head a time or two during production. Her voice is pleasant and a very nice match to this material.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Here are this month’s new releases: AUDIO RENAI…

October 16, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, New Releases 

New Releases

Here are this month’s new releases:

AUDIO RENAISSANCE

There and Back Again: An Actor’s Tale by Sean Astin with Joe Layden, read by Sean Astin

I’m looking forward to this memoir of Astin’s experience working on the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I’m one of the folks who watched every extra goodie on the massive Extended LOTR DVD’s.

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BLACKSTONE AUDIO

Callahan’s Con by Spider Robinson, read by Barrett Whitener

Barrett Whitener read Spider Robinson’s The Callahan Chronicals, which we reviewed on SFFAudio a while back. The Callahan stories are among the most empathic high-quality stories you’ll find in the world of science fiction, and this title is likely no different. The description says that Death himself walks into the bar this time…

Jesse:

I just finished listening to Callahan’s Key, also read by Barrett Whitener. Where you’ve described Robinson’s work as “empathic high-quality stories” I would describe it as “high-functioning fan-fiction”. That isn’t a bad thing, I like the stuff myself, but it certainly won’t be to everyone’s taste.

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HARPER AUDIO

A Coyote In The House by Elmore Leonard

This is a kids book in the tradition of “Call of The Wild” – told from the animal’s perspective.

Jesse:

If nothing else, crime and western writer Elmore Leonard has a great ear for dialogue, so this should be a fun tale with respect to that. But he’s never written juvenile fiction before, so its also unknown territory in some respects.

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PAPERBACK DIGITAL

Cally’s War by John Ringo and Julie Cochrane, read by William Dufris and Christine Marshall

A novel by military SF writer and Baen author John Ringo and Julie Cochrane. Cally had been fighting for the future of the human race, but now she is in a war for survival: the survival of her soul…

Paperback Digital has also released several OTR audio dramas on Fictionwise.com: “The Green Hills of Earth” by Robert A. Heinlein, “Drop Dead” by Clifford D. Simak, “Destination: Moon” by Robert A. Heinlein, and “With Folded Hands” by Jack Williamson.

And look for Charlaine Harris’ Vampire Mystery novel Dead Until Dark, which will be released on Halloween. Paperback Digital titles can be purchased on their site (http://www.paperbackdigital.com) or on Fictionwise.

Jesse:

It should also be noted that Paperback Digital has remastered and cleaned up these 1950s era radio dramas. Something which they sorely needed.

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RANDOM HOUSE AUDIO

Legends II: New Short Novels by the Masters of Modern Fantasy, Volume III, edited by Robert Silverberg

This volume of the Legends II series contains stories by two of my favorites: “The Monarch of the Glen” by Neil Gaiman and “The Yazoo Queen” by Orson Scott Card. I’m a fan of the short novel length – there is so much treasure out there in the novella and novelette size. While I’m talking about these, Legends II, Vol. 1 contains “The Sworn Sword” by George R.R. Martin and “Beyond Between” by Anne McCaffrey, and Legends II, Vol 2 contains “Lord John and the Succubus” by Diana Gabaldon and “Indomitable” by Terry Brooks.

Jesse:

I look forward to hearing these! The first Legends anthologies were released by HarperAudio last time. Hopefully Random House Audio will do as good a job.

Star Wars: Jedi Trial by David Sherman and Dan Cragg, read by Jonathan Davis

Random House’s Star Wars titles rival Simon and Schuster’s Star Trek titles in production value and style. If you enjoy Star Wars stories, these books are quite good. Also quite good is Jonathan Davis, who I first heard when he read Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash.

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RECORDED BOOKS

Raketty Tam by Brian Jacques, read by Brian Jacques

A title in the Redwall fantasy series!

Another note from Recorded Books – they have a rental program that looks a lot like Netflix. Unlimited audiobook rentals for $29.99/month. Check it out here.

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SIMON AND SCHUSTER AUDIO

Night of the Living Dead by John Russo and George Romero

An audio drama featuring the original cast!

Dark Tower VII by Stephen King, read by George Guidall

The final volume of Stephen King’s epic series. Stephen King read by George Guidall? Yeah, baby. I’m a Stephen King fan, but have not kept up with this series. I’ve heard “The Gunslinger” and “The Drawing of the Three“, and enjoyed them both – time to start on the rest of them.

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COMING SOON!

Wil Wheaton, of wilwheaton.net, has published a book called Just a Geek (which is excellent) and I’m thrilled to report that he’s recording an audio version. Wil says the audiobook has some extra asides, and that it’s more like a performance, or director’s cut, than a straight-forward reading. Look for it on his website in the coming weeks! In the meantime, ITConversations has posted audio of Wil’s recent performance at Gnomedex, where he read excerpts from the book.

Jesse:

This sounds like a terrific idea! Wheaton experimented a little with audio blogging a while back – posting to his website by telephone. He’s also read at least one audiobook short story that I know of. It can be found in Dove Audio’s The Greatest Science Fiction Stories of the 20th Century (which is available on Audible.com). The story is called “Why I left Harry’s All Night Hamburgers” by Lawrence Watt-Evans.

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If you’ve got something you’d like to show up on our monthly New Releases post, write me and let me know. Enjoy, everybody!

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

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