Harlan Ellison MP3 Interview

May 30, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Author of the Month

Harlan Ellison (Photo by Christer Akerberg)To cap our first Author Of The Month month SFFaudio is proud to offer our first ever audio (MP3) interview with an SFWA Grandmaster. In this FREE downloadable interview, Harlan Ellison discusses his career in both audiobooks and audio drama with SFFaudio editor Scott Danielson. The interview was recorded on May 23, 2006.

Download the |MP3|

Posted by Jesse Willis

BMW Audiobooks Releases A Twilight Zone-ish Product Placement Podcast

May 26, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Put on your seat-belt and prepare for highs, lows and plenty of twists and turns. BMW, in conjunction with Random House, brings you BMW Audio Books, a unique series of specially-commissioned short stories showcasing the work of some of the finest contemporary writing talent. Each gripping audio book is yours to download for free. Listen to them on your MP3 player, your laptop or ideally, in the car. So sit back, hit play and enjoy the ride.

BMW does Audiobooks! That’s right, Bavarian Motor Works, the German guys who make cars, have released a batch of excellent podcast short stories (in English). This is a promotion like their BMW Films promotion from a few years back. Solid name authors have been hired to create short stories with a specific model of BMW automobile at the center of the action. I’ve listened to all four of the released stories and I’ve liked each, only one is speculative fiction related, it’s a story in the tradition of The Twilight Zone – well written and well read. The BMW product placement is blatant and oddly pornographic, it makes you feel dirty, but kind of in a good way.

The only Speculative Fiction story runs about an hour and was written exclusively for BMW Audiobooks. It can only be found in audio format, and hasn’t been released as a hard copy anywhere else. This is download only folks. Here’s the complete skinny…

Master Of The Storm
By James Flint; Read by Forbes Masson
1 MP3 File – Approx. 60 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: BMW Audiobooks
Podcast: 02/28/2006
“You”? are the central character in James Flint’s Master Of The Storm, a gripping tale of new business success followed by familiar encounters – all too familiar. And just when you think you are out of the storm, you find yourself pulled deeper and deeper into the mystery which seemingly has no exit.”

If you find yourself enthralled by this tale, there are three others, I classify as “crime fiction” – details for which can be found on SFFaudio’s sister site AuralNoir.com. AuralNoir.com, by the way, does for Mystery, Crime and Noir Audio what SFFaudio does for Science Fiction and Fantasy Audio.

Now how to get it, you can download Master Of The Storm directly from the BMW-Audiobooks website (but a free registration is required) or you can just do a search on iTunes using the search term “BMW.”

Review of Cell by Stephen King

May 23, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Audiobook Review

Editor’s note: Our newest reviewer, a mysterious gent from the future known only as The Time Traveler, debuts on SFFaudio with this review of Stephen King’s latest. Be sure to sit down and read it before you pick up your cell phone.

Science Fiction & Horror Audiobook - Cell by Stephen KingCell
By Stephen King; Read by Campbell Scott
8 Cassettes or 12 CDs – 12.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio / Recorded Books
Published: 2006
ISBN: 0743554329 (Cassette), 0743554337 (CD)
Themes: / Horror / Science Fiction / Apocalypse / Zombies/ Journey /
Survivors / Terrorism

There’s a reason why cell rhymes with hell.

Stephen King’s latest book is a return to form for this master of horror. In it, everyone with a cell phone goes stark raving mad after they receive some kind of pulse through their cell. The pulse, likely sent by terrorists, wipes the victims’ minds clean. This story takes no time to get started. Within the first few minutes, you are drawn into this nightmare scenario, steeped in gore and horror.

The main character, Clayton Riddell, finds himself in Boston when the pulse drives the majority of people biting, scratching, and murderously mad. He is joined by a band of likable characters as they set off to get out of Boston. Meanwhile the victims of the pulse start behaving more like Zombies and start flocking together and evolving with even more unexpected behavior.

Much of this material is familiar ground for King. But the narrative drive is strong, and it doesn’t drag with shear verbosity as King’s writing sometimes does. Campbell Scott reads the audiobook. Scott is a very competent narrator who’s also a film actor and has appeared in movies like The Exorcism of Emily Rose. His narration is restrained and subdued which works well with the apocalyptic horror being described. His Boston accents are excellent without being overdone. He’s also the son of the late George C. Scott.

I’ve got two qualms with the audiobook. If it’s unabridged, shouldn’t it contain the dedication? I picked up the hardcover edition at the store and found it was dedicated to George Romero and Richard Matheson. George Romero was the director and writer of the Night of the Living Dead and it’s sequels. Richard Matheson wrote the seminal post-apocalyptic vampire novel, I am Legend, in 1954. There is no dedication on the audiobook. Doesn’t unabridged mean word for word? The dedication definitely foreshadows what kind of novel Cell is to be.

Also there are places in the second half of the book where the narrative voice totally changes. It sounds as if they needed some pick-ups done, to fix small mistakes, and Mr. Scott was not available so they plugged someone else in. Overall these are small distractions, and the audiobook is a hard to turn-off listen.

Review of The Voice from the Edge: Midnight at the Sunken Cathedral by Harlan Ellison

May 22, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Author of the Month

The Voice from the Edge: Midnight in the Sunken Cathedral by Harlan EllisonThe Voice from the Edge: Midnight in the Sunken Cathedral
By Harlan Ellison; Read by Harlan Ellison
5 CDs – 5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Fantastic Audio
Published: 2001
ISBN: 1574534157
Themes: / Science Fiction / Fantasy / Horror / The Mob / Dreams /

Harlan Ellison will talk your ear off. After listening to the man perform 11 of his stories over the better part of five hours, I’ve come to the conclusion that he is not the type of guy that you’re going to be able to get away from easily; not once he’s started talking. But would you want to? Ellison is like the guy you sit down next in a bar only because it’s the only seat open, praying that he’ll leave you alone, but, sure enough, he turns to you and immediately begins to regale you with that “Car Talk” voice of his about his latest exploit. “Terminator? My idea. That sumbitch James Cameron tried to pass it off as his own, but I wasn’t having it.” Or, “I tell you I never met anybody more uptight than those guys over at Disney. I make one little joke… it was stupid, yeah, but just a joke! Of course nobody would really ever draw Tinkerbell doing that, but try telling those guys that you were only joking. Nope; there’s ol’ Harlan, out on his ass the same day he was hired.” Ellison seems to be one of those guys that are vastly entertaining to listen to, and to watch in action, but only as long as his perpetual low-level rage is never directed at you.

Which is what makes this collection perfect. You get to sit in your car, office, wherever, and hear Ellison tell you some of his best stories without ever worrying that you’re going to get more involved than you want to be. But, maybe you should be worried, just a little. While there are a few stories in this collection that are pretty light-hearted from beginning to end, most of them begin innocently enough, but then slowly become more and more disturbing until it’s almost impossible not to feel some sense of unease and trepidation, and then, when they end, almost palpable relief. “S.R.O.,” for example; what starts out as a cheery little tale of off-center entrepreneurship, read in Ellison’s best 1920’s gangster voice, begins to drift into a much more solemn treatment of beauty and the lengths to which people will go to experience it.

Then there are the stories which begin creepy and stay that way. “The Function of Dream Sleep” begins with the image a mouth opening in a man’s side, which is disturbing enough, but Ellison keeps on turning the “dread” knob up until even driving along an interstate in broad daylight seems somehow sinister and unreal. I’d be interested in reading these stories in text form to see how much of this sensation comes from the actual writing and how much comes from the sheer desperation Ellison puts into his performances. I wasn’t surprised to see that Ellison has a few acting credits to his name, (most awesomely, “man at orgy” in Godson); the range of character and emotion that are present in these readings rivals that of any “professional” reader. At times it’s apparent that Ellison’s familiarity with the stories allows him to enhance his performances by adding laughter, stutters, and other little bits of paralanguage that only he would be able to get away with. The postscript to “The Function of Dream Sleep,” in which Ellison explains some of the elements of his most autobiographical story, is also told in this extemporaneous manner. It’s like the old guy at the bar has finally started to wind down and is going casually toss off one last bit of terror that will keep you up for weeks before he empties his drink, slaps you too hard on the back, and starts shuffling for home.

BBC 7 Serializing Alex Garland’s The Coma

May 21, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

Online Audio

BBC 7's The 7th DimensionThis looks interesting, BBC Radio 7 is serializing The Coma a novel by Alex Garland (he was the screenwriter for the film 28 Days Later). The five part unabridged reading begins tommorow (Monday May 22nd) and the five segments air once a night til Friday.

The Coma
By Alex Garland; Read by Tom Goodman-Hill
5 RADIO BROADCASTS – Minutes Approx 150 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Broadcaster: BBC7 / The 7th Dimension
Broadcast: May 22nd to May 26th 10th at 6:30pm and 12:30am UK TIME.
“[A] surreal fantasy which delves into the mysterious workings of the subconscious mind.”

NOTE: Those outside the UK can use the BBC7 Listen Again service to catch it for 6 days following the broadcasts.

posted by Jesse

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Tertiary Phase Wins Audiobook of the Year

May 21, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, News 

SFFaudio News

Science Fiction Audio Drama - The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Tertiary PhaseThis just in – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Tertiary Phase was named the Audiobook of the Year by the Audio Publisher’s Association at this weekend’s Audie Awards! Congratulations to adapter/director Dirk Maggs and everyone involved with it. It’s fantastic to see a science fiction audio drama win this award. See the SFFaudio review of this title here.

In a tough Science Fiction category, the winner was Market Forces by Richard K. Morgan. Find the SFFaudio review here.

Genre winners in other categories:

Classic
Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne, read by Jim Dale, Listening Library

Children’s Titles for Ages 8+
The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson, read by Patricia Conolly, Recorded Books

Solo Narration – Female
Davina Porter for A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon

Audio Drama
The Sherlock Holmes Theatre by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, performed by a cast, produced by Yuri Rasovsky, Blackstone Audio
ed – OK, this may not technically be a genre title, but most SF fans like Holmes, and Yuri Rasovsky has genre ties, including the excellent 2000X series.

Achievement in Production
At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald, performed by a cast, Focus on the Family

Not a bad genre showing! Find the complete list of winners and nominees at www.theaudies.com. Unfortunately, the website is a little cryptic as of this writing – to see the winners and nominees, you’ve got to download a 6Mb PDF file that is titled “The Audies Sampler”. If I can find a clean HTML list, I’ll let you know.

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