Next week, the Quandary and Quintessential Phases …

April 29, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

BBC Radio 4Next week, the Quandary and Quintessential Phases of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy air on BBC Radio 4. You can listen to each show online for a week after it plays over the air.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Some very cool news from CBC Radio One: BETWEEN T…

April 28, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

Some very cool news from CBC Radio One:

BETWEEN THE COVERS
Weekday afternoons at 2:30 on The Roundup
And weeknights at 10:40 on CBC Radio One

May 16-27 SIX IMPOSSIBLE THINGS, curated by Nalo Hopkinson
A master in the world of “what if”, Nalo Hopkinson is one of Canada’s bright young stars in speculative fiction . For the next 2 weeks she takes us on a tour of the genre, presenting work by both well known and emerging Canadian talent. Between The Covers celebrates this work with a special presentation in words, sound and music.

Mon. May 16
Edward Willett “Strange Harvest”
Terence M. Green “Room 1786”

Tues. May 17
Candas Jane Dorsey “Mom and Mother Theresa”
Marcie Tentchoff “Quite Contrary”

Wed. May 18th:
Larissa Lai “The Combing”
Penn Kemp “Then There Were Foxes”

Thurs. May 19th:
Wilma Kenny “The Wedding”
Sandra Kasturi “Carnaval Perpetuel”

Fri. May 20th:
Nalo Hopkinson “Precious”
Dora Knez “If I Had Wings”

Mon. May 23rd:
Ven Begamudre “In the Beginning There Was Memory”
Phyllis Gotlieb “was/man”

Tues. May 24th:
Yves Meynard “Souvenirs”
Pam MacLean “Dream Diner”

Wed. May 25th:
Dan Rubin “The Singing”
Rhea Rose-Fleming “Mermaid”

Thurs. May 26th:
Nega Mezlekia “Devil in the Wilderness”
Wade Bell “Picture, War”

Fri. May 27th:
Ashok Mathur “Once Upon an Elephant”
Nancy Kilpatrick “Sweet”

Produced in Toronto by Joe Mahoney, Rosie Fernandez, Linda Grearson, Wayne Richardson, Tracy Rideout and Greg DeClute

Review of To Say Nothing Of The Dog by Connie Willis

April 26, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

Science Fiction Audiobooks - To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie WillisTo Say Nothing Of The Dog – Or How We Found The Bishop’s Birdstump At Last
By Connie Willis; Read by Steven Crossley
15 cassettes – 21.25 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books
Published: 2000
ISBN 0788755498
Themes: Science Fiction / Time-travel / Comedy / Romance / Mystery / 19th Century /England / Near Future /

The story involves Coventry Cathedral (old, new and burned down), pen wipers, a breach in the space-time continuum, boating on the Thames, evolution, and bulldogs.
– Connie Willis in a Science Fiction Weekly Interview

For such a stunningly popular Science Fiction author Connie Willis has some very unusual obsessions: Churches, England, a neurotic lead character and cats. But then again if you take away the churches and the England all you’ve got left is Robert A. Heinlein, so don’t complain. Now before I get all reviewing let me first say that the Science Fiction elements in this novel are truly paper thin. The closest we come to real SF meat is the many characters thinking about time travel paradoxes and how to prevent them. The plot resolution, without giving anything away, centers around the reason time travel works the way it does in these Connie Willis time travel books and that revelation felt not just un-science fictiony but also down-right un-scientific. But on the other hand it has a neatly tied up happy ending, and we all need a nice happy ending now and then.

This is the third time travel story set in a near future where an Oxford history don named Dunworthy sends his undergraduates back in time to visit historical English churches. But unlike Fire Watch and Doomsday Book, To Say Nothing of the Dog is also a romantic comedy and a mystery. Instead of sending his students to WWII London (as in Fire Watch), or Middle Ages England (as in Doomsday Book), Dunworthy sends them to 19th century Oxford for a little R&R, and while they are there would they “mind finding the bishop’s birdstump?” – whatever that is. Now don’t get me wrong, I actually enjoyed this novel, quite a lot in fact! It’s just that Willis is such a very strange writer…. her characters, for example, they think a lot, no strike that. They think way too much. They are always overthinking every possibility of what could go wrong and then thinking it again just for luck, which is truly infuriating. Thankfully, this characteristic is slightly less apparent in this novel than it was in Doomsday Book and this book benefits from that slight reduction. No doubt this was due in part to the first person perspective. Keep writing first person Connie!

The mystery element is also rather weak. Are we really supposed to care what happened to the bishop’s birdstump? We don’t even find out what the damn thing is until about two thirds of the way through the book! What really saves this novel from becoming utterly unlistenable is the author’s attention to light humor and the characters. These are nice people, and the situations they are in are for the most part quite cute. The romantic angle is also sweet, and the text is rife with evidence that Willis really researches the heck out of the settings she writes about. I don’t recall ever laughing out loud, though many sections were quite amusing, or ever being so caught up in the romance that I couldn’t stop listening if I needed to, though I did like the way that all played out – it snuck up on me. What I liked most about To Say Nothing Of The Dog – Or How We Found The Bishop’s Birdstump At Last was the literary references included. There are characters who act like they’re in a P.G. Wodehouse Jeeves and Wooster story, the mystery element is obviously quite Dorothy L. Sayers inspired and Willis even named the novel after the biggest influence, Jerome K. Jerome’s Victorian comic novel Three Men In A Boat – To Say Nothing Of The Dog! Narrator Steven Crossley has the prototypical English accent you associate with Masterpiece Theater and costume drama. He’s called upon to stretch only a little with this one, playing mostly upper and middle class English gentlefolk from the 21st and 19th centuries. Nicely done too. Recorded Books has chosen some neat art for the cover, depicting an hourglass and a bulldog. As usual the packaging is absolutely top notch, you won’t find a more durable or attractive case for an audiobook from another publisher.

So with such a mixed review can I recommend this book? Absolutely I can, for of all Connie Willis’ weirdness, she is as gosh darned friendly and smart as you and me, just maybe a little smarter and definitely a little weirder, and I would never ever hesitate to recommend a novel that can trace its origins back to one line in Robert A. Heinlein’s Have Space Suit, Will Travel. To Say Nothing Of The Dog – Or How We Found The Bishop’s Birdstump At Last is recommended as a tonic for the weary traveler, or just as a lighthearted vacation from Hard SF.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov

April 23, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

Science Fiction and Fantasy Audio

Science Fiction Audiobook - Foundation and Empire by Isaac AsimovFoundation and Empire
By Isaac Asimov; Read by Scott Brick
8 CD’s, 10 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Books on Tape
Published: 2005 (Re-issued with new narrator)
ISBN: None on package
Themes: / Science Fiction / Psychohistory / Galactic Empire / Mental Powers /

This classic novel contains two parts. The first is The General and is much like Foundation in tone and subject matter. Galactic Empire is dying, and the Foundation grows in strength. The story is about Bel Riose, a General in the Empire, and the Empire’s last gasp against the Foundation.

But then Asimov takes it up a notch. “The Mule” is the second part of the book, and is one of Asimov’s finest works. The Foundation is unexpectedly confronted with an enigma who calls himself The Mule. Hari Seldon could not have considered such an anomaly in his equations, and when historical events are altered by The Mule’s mental ability to influence people, the Foundation responds.

And what more can I say about Scott Brick? I really enjoy him, and look forward to his narrations. This book was written more than fifty years ago, and it holds up as much more than a historical curiosity. Brick does a fine job with it.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

We’ve just got the official word from CBC Insider …

April 20, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

We’ve just got the official word from CBC Insider Joe Mahoney…

BETWEEN THE COVERS, CBC Radio One’s book-reading program will definitely be doing the Spring 2005 Speculative Fiction Series!

Joe says:

‘Starting May 16th 2005 and weekdays through to May 27th 2005 CBC Radio’s Between
the Covers will feature a special series of short speculative fiction, hosted and curated by Nalo Hopkinson. The series, entitled “Six Impossible Things,” will include fiction by Marcie Tentchoff, Penn Kemp, Nancy Kilpatrick, Pam MacLean, Wade Bell, Terence M. Green, Nalo Hopkinson, Phyllis Gotlieb, Rhea Rose-Fleming, Sandra Kasturi, Dora Knez, Edward Willett, Ashok Mathur, Dan Rubin, Larissa Lai, Wilma
Kenny, Yves Meynard, Nega Mezlekia, Candas Jane Dorsey, and Ven Begamudre.

You’ll have an opportunity to hear Six Impossible Things weekday afternoons in the second half hour of The Roundup (2:30pm) and weeknights on Between The Covers at 10:40 on CBC Radio One.’

Be sure to tune in via the internet around the world or via old fashioned RF radio in Canada.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of ENGLISH 3020 Studies In Narrative: Science Fiction & Fantasy

April 18, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Science FictionIndependent and Distance Learning – ENGLISH 3020 Studies In Narrative: Science Fiction & Fantasy
Lectures by P.C. Hodgell and Michael Levy
20 MP3 Lectures
LINK: http://lrc.lib.umn.edu/Engl3020.htm
Approx 19 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: University Of Minnesota
Published: 2002 (But recorded over several years)
Themes: / Non-Fiction / Science Fiction / Fantasy / Horror / Time Travel / Gothic Horror / Utopias / Dystopias / Religion / Vampires / Urban Fantasy / High Fantasy / Sword and Sorcery / Cyberpunk / Messiah / Apocalypse / Future War / Supermen / Robots / Feminism / Computers / Robots / Androids / Cyborgs / Dungeons & Dragons / Aliens /

Pat Hodgell and Mike Levy discuss the details of SF&F’s history in under 20 hours – no mean feat. Though in amongst the broad academic strokes there are many nice discussions listeners should note. These are academic university lectures, and not an entertainment talk show so the evidentiary schema is the primary focus.

The lectures are vaguely sequential to the history of science fiction and fantasy. The first lectures by Levy discusses the origins of Science Fiction, tackling the progenitive triumverate of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, H.G.Wells, and Jules Verne. The second lecture explores the early and mid twentieth century figures in the field: Edgar Rice Burroughs, Hugo Gernsback, John W. Campbell, Robert A. Heinlein. For the third and fourth lectures Fantasy author Pat Hodgell and the course’s instructor presents the origins of modern Fantasy from its roots in gothic novels and romanticism and then the various 19th century fantastic writings.

Levy’s turn on the fifth lecture covers the early Utopian and Dystopian stories with particular attention to the novels We, 1984 and Brave New World. His insightful commentary continues into the sixth lecture and covers post World War II SF with Astounding Vs. Galaxy Science Fiction Magazines, and the novels Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth’s The Space Merchants, Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano and John Brunner’s Shockwave Rider. For lectures seven and eight Hodgell investigates English Fantasy authors Charles Williams, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Handing off to Levy again for lectures nine and ten covering the general theme of Religion and the specific themes of Messiah and Apocalypse with the novel examples of James Blish’s A Case Of Conscience, Walter M. Miller Jr.’s A Canticle For Leibowitz, Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End and Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger In A Strange Land.

Lecture eleven covers the theme of evolutionary Supermen – homo superior in his early fictional incarnations and where the strange motivation to write about them comes from. Lecture twelve is similar to eleven except its focus is on the manufactured heirs to humanity in the form of Computers, Robots, Androids and Cyborgs. This is also the first lecture to include a guest, SF author William F. Wu! Lectures thirteen and fourteen cover the ever popular Time Travel theme, including Connie Willis’ Firewatch, Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court, Michael Moorcock’s Behold The Man and two of Heinlein’s excellent SF short stories All You Zombies and By His Bootstraps.

Lectures fifteen and sixteen investigate fantasy fiction after Tolkien’s influence covering the various themes of Horror, Vampires, Urban Fantasy, High Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery and the influence of the role playing game Dungeons & Dragons. Among the stories specifically discussed are Fritz Leiber’s Smoke Ghost, Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend, Ursula K. Le Guin’s “Earthsea” novels, Terry Pratchett’s “Discworld” novels and Robert E. Howard’s “Conan” stories. Lectures seventeen and eighteen examine women’s role in science fiction, with the themes of Utopias and Feminism, discussion of the novels Venus Plus X by Theodore Sturgeon and The Left Hand Of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin, as well as discussion of it’s authors, the likes of Joanna Russ, Ursula K. Le Guin, James Triptree Jr. and Octavia Butler.

Lecture nineteen breaks from the lecturing professor mold with Pat Hodgell doing an interview in the home of Minnesota SF author Gordon R. Dickson. He talks about how he writes, where he gets his ideas (from history dontcha know) and about the writing process – and this is a very valuable interview as Dickson is now deceased. Dickson novels discussed include among others Dorsai! and Soldier Ask Not. Pat Hodgell concludes the lecture series with a roundtable discussion with herself, Levy and SF author Elanor Arnason. Together they talk about Cyberpunk, William Gibson’s Neuromancer and the film Blade Runner, the use of Aliens in SF and some final thoughts about where they thing SF and F is going.

The sound quality of these lectures isn’t great. There are many background noises, people whispering, lecturers too close and too far from the mic, Gordon R. Dickson coughs a bit and various other aural annoyances are legion. But, it was recorded at a good level and I don’t think I missed one word that was above a whisper – these are lectures and they are free so don’t complain! The funny thing is after hearing these lectures I feel a very strange urge… to learn more about Minnesota. I’ve never had that urge before but Pat Hodgell and Mike Levy manage to include so many Minnesota references and connections into their lectures they sold me on the whole ‘10,000 Lakes to Explore’ deal! Hmmm, maybe these lectures are being given away for free because their underwritten by the Minnesota Tourism Bureau? In any case I heartily recommend you give one or some of these lectures a try they are good listening and good edjamacation.

Here’s a breakdown of the lectures::

Lecture 1 – 29 Minutes 6 Seconds – SF FOUNDATIONS
(LINK: http://lrc.lib.umn.edu/dai/P131_1A.MP3)

Lecture 2 – 27 Minutes 8 Seconds – SF FOUNDATIONS
(LINK: http://lrc.lib.umn.edu/dai/P131_1B.MP3)

Lecture 3 – 26 Minutes 46 Seconds – FANTASY
FOUNDATIONS
(LINK: http://lrc.lib.umn.edu/dai/P131_2A.MP3)

Lecture 4 – 27 Minutes 10 Seconds – FANTASY
FOUNDATIONS
(LINK: http://lrc.lib.umn.edu/dai/P131_2B.MP3)

Lecture 5 – 26 Minutes 7 Seconds – THE FUTURE
(LINK: http://lrc.lib.umn.edu/dai/P131_3A.MP3)

Lecture 6 – 26 Minutes 3 Seconds- THE FUTURE
(LINK: http://lrc.lib.umn.edu/dai/P131_3B.MP3)

Lecture 7 – 28 Minutes 2 Seconds- HOBBITS AND INKLINGS
(LINK: http://lrc.lib.umn.edu/dai/P131_4A.MP3)

Lecture 8 – 27 Minutes 9 Seconds- HOBBITS AND INKLINGS
(LINK: http://lrc.lib.umn.edu/dai/P131_4B.MP3)

Lecture 9 – 27 Minutes 18 Seconds- SCIENCE FICTION AND
RELIGION
(LINK: http://lrc.lib.umn.edu/dai/P131_5A.MP3)

Lecture 10 – 26 Minutes 57Seconds – SCIENCE FICTION
AND RELIGION
(LINK: http://lrc.lib.umn.edu/dai/P131_5B.MP3)

Lecture 11 – 27 Minutes 18 Seconds – SUPERMEN
(LINK: http://lrc.lib.umn.edu/dai/P131_6A.MP3)

Lecture 12 – 28 Minutes 11Seconds – ROBOTS, ANDROIDS
AND CYBORGS
(LINK: http://lrc.lib.umn.edu/dai/P131_6B.MP3)

Lecture 13 – 26 Minutes 7 Seconds- TIME TRAVEL
(LINK: http://lrc.lib.umn.edu/dai/P131_7A.MP3)

Lecture 14 – 27 Minutes 11 Seconds – TIME TRAVEL
(LINK: http://lrc.lib.umn.edu/dai/P131_7B.MP3)

Lecture 15 – 28 Minutes 2 Seconds – MODERN FANTASY AND
HORROR
(LINK: http://lrc.lib.umn.edu/dai/P131_8A.MP3)

Lecture 16 – 43 Minutes 47 Seconds – MODERN FANTASY
AFTER TOLKIEN
(LINK: http://lrc.lib.umn.edu/dai/P131_8B.MP3)

Lecture 17 – 27 Minutes 30 Seconds -WOMEN IN SCIENCE
FICTION
(LINK: http://lrc.lib.umn.edu/dai/P131_9A.MP3)

Lecture 18 – 27 Minutes 57 Seconds -WOMEN IN SCIENCE
FICTION
(LINK: http://lrc.lib.umn.edu/dai/P131_9B.MP3)

Lecture 19 – 44 Minutes 16 Seconds – AN INTERVIEW WITH
GORDON R. DICKSON
(LINK: http://lrc.lib.umn.edu/dai/P131_10A.MP3)

Lecture 20 – 43 Minutes 46 Seconds – CYBERPUNK AND
ALIENS
(LINK: http://lrc.lib.umn.edu/dai/P131_10B.MP3)

Posted by Jesse Willis

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