Rumors of a Planet Of The Apes Audio Drama

February 28, 2007 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Audio Drama, News 

SFFaudio Rumor

Coming soon? March 2007, maybe? The first episode may be a free download? And a podcast? And you’re thinking of a Logan’s Run show too?

Planet Of The Apes - The Audio Drama

You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!

Review of Guardians Of The West by David Eddings

February 28, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Audiobook Review

Science Fiction Audiobook - Guardians of the West by David EddingsGuardians Of The West (Book #1 of the Malloreon)
By David Eddings; Read by Cameron Beierle
14 CDs , 1 MP3 CD or Cassettes- Aprox. 15 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Books in Motion
Published: 2006
ISBN: 1596072377 (MP3-CD), 1596072369 (CDs), 1596072350 (Cassettes)
Themes: / Fantasy / Magic / War / Magical Creatures / Wizards / Gods /

Guardians Of The West is the first book in a five book series called the The Malloreon. There’s a previous five volume series, The Belgariad, that takes place in this same fantasy setting. In fact, Guardians Of The West picks up shortly after The Belgariad’s ending. I had never read The Belgariad series, so I had to play catch-up listening to this title.

After a prologue that was obviously written as a refresher to those who had read the previous series, the story gets underway. The tale unfolds slowly enough. The large cast of characters are easy to get to know and are varied and interesting in themselves. There is Errand, a naive child with special gifts. Polgara, who is a motherly near-immortal. And her father, Belgrath, a boozing, womanizer, a real Falstaffian character until things get serious.

The novel’s central characters switches to the young king, Garion, who we find to be having trouble with his new spirited queen, Ce’Nedra. The plot really begins to move when there are hints of a new dark power known only as Zandramas. The pacing remains leisure through the first half of the novel. After the climatic ending to the first series, I suppose Eddings needed to maneuver and reintroduce the cast to his readers and create a new major conflict. This could have been frustrating if wasn’t for Eddings’ gift for dialog and characterization.

This book needed a talented voice actor to carry off the large and varied cast. Sprawling fantasy novels may be the most challenging genre for an actor to convey. Cameron Beierle does it all with unequivocal panache. His very intonations carry enough characterization that Eddings’ descriptions of characters become redundant. He uses many accents that seem entirely appropriate to the characters. Like Harry Potter’s narrator, Jim Dale, he has a seemingly endless repertoire of voices. I’d go so far as to call Cameron Beierle the American Jim Dale.

If you haven’t read or listened to Eddings’ Belgariad series, I’m sure that’s the place to start. The first book in the series is called Pawn of Prophecy and it along with all the books in the two series are available from Books In Motion. And all narrated by Cameron Beierle!

Another University Course on Science Fiction – Political Science 190

February 27, 2007 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

Online Audio

 science fiction and politicsJust over a year ago I posted a story about how SF had an influence in the real world. I offered the proof of Courtney Brown Ph.D, he’s an Emory University prof who had offered a Political Science course entitled Science Fiction and Politics (Political Science 190) and that he’d been making the lectures available as a podcast. Well I’m here today to say that Science Fiction STILL HAS an influence in the real world. And further to that I offer the exact same proof. New year, new semester new Science Fiction and Politics (Political Science 190) course!

The spring 2007 semester has already started, but just like last year there’s still no cost to audit.

Here’s the course’s schedule:

Weeks 1 & 2
Theme: Empires I
Featured Author: Isaac Asimov – Foundation, and Foundation And Empire

Week 3
Theme: Empires II
Featured Author: Isaac Asimov – Second Foundation

Week 4
Theme: Information control and the circumvention of revolution
Featured Author: Aldous Huxley

Week 5
Theme: The struggle between collectivism and individualism
Featured Author: Usula K. Le Guin

Week 6
Theme: Genetic engineering and liberty
Featured Author: David Brin

Week 7
Theme: Genetic engineering and evolution
Featured Author: Greg Bear

Week 8
Theme: Children soldiers, genocide, and morality
Featured Author: Orson Scott Card

Week 9
Theme: War and exploitation
Featured Author: Joe Haldeman

Week 10
Theme: Blockades and their circumvention, forced group isolation
Featured Author: Wilson

Week 11
Theme: Ethics in the context of desperation, manipulation, warfare
Featured Author: Isaac Asimov – The Gods Themselves

Week 12
Theme: Mass manipulation and control, corporatist balkanization of government, cyberpunk
Featured Author: William Gibson

Week 13
Theme: Review

You can subscribe to the podcast via this feed:

http://www.courtneybrown.com/classes/scifi/mp3/cb_SciFiPoliticsClass1.xml

The Green Hornet as a podcast

February 27, 2007 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Podcast - The Green HornetThe Green Hornet Podcast is a podcasting of the 1930s to 1950s George W. Trendle superhero series. The premise of The Green Hornet was he was a newspaper publisher by day and vigilante by night. The Green Hornet fought crime with his high-powered car, the Black Beauty, utilized a gun that fired knockout gas instead of bullets and made good use of his fists. He was assisted by his Filipino valet, Kato. Kato would drive the Black Beauty, keep watch out for the police and crooks and even sometimes lend a helping fist. The show’s 16-year run ended on December 5, 1952. Below is just smattering of broadcasts from that time rearranged from the podcast feed to be in chronological order…

|MP3| Murder Across The Board – 07/05/1941
|MP3| Charity Takes It On The Chin – 02/21/1942
|MP3| Invasion Plans For Victory – 05/19/1942
|MP3| A Slip Of The Lips – 05/23/1942
|MP3| Murder Trips A Rat – 09/12/1942
|MP3| Torpedo On Wheels – 11/14/1942
|MP3| Sabotage Finds A Name – 11/21/1942
|MP3| Superhighway Robbery – 11/22/1942
|MP3| Stuffed Panda – 10/04/1945
|MP3| Ballots And Bluff – 11/01/1945
|MP3| Gas Station Protection Racket – 11/29/1945
|MP3| George Havens Secret – 01/22/1946
|MP3| Escape For Revenge – 01/29/1946
|MP3| Woman In The Case – 02/12/1946
|MP3| Underwater Adventure – 09/24/1946
|MP3| A Matter Of Evidence – 01/20/1948
|MP3| Hit And Run – 01/27/1948
|MP3| Face In The Television – 02/10/1949
|MP3| Devil’s Playground – 12/06/1950
|MP3| Pretenders To The Throne – 12/03/1952

Or for those using podcatchers, copy and paste the following link into your aggregator’s subscription field:

http://www.botar.us/greenhornet.xml

Review of Conan The Barbarian Movie Adaptation LP

February 26, 2007 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Audio Drama, Reviews 

SFFaudio Audiobook Review

Conan The Barbarian - Movie Adaptation LPConan The Barbarian
Based on the Motion Picture directed by John Milius; Performed by a FULL CAST
33 1/3 RPM LP – Approx. 43 minutes [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Power Records
Published: 1982 (Out Of Print)
Product #: 1134
Themes: / Fantasy / Revenge / Battle / Mythology / Gods / Snakes /

“I was born on the battlefield! The first sounds I
heard were the screams of dying men!”

It took almost a half of century for Robert E. Howard’s legendary thief, warrior, barbarian and eventual King to debut on the silver screen. In the fifty or so years prior to the 1982 theatrical release of Conan The Barbarian, and against all odds, Conan had clutched fate by its throat and demanded success in practically every media it was translated into. Novels, magazines, newspaper syndication and comics, they were all conquered by this sword-wielding barbarian. These conquest continually garnished him a growing legion of loyal followers. So by Conan’s God Crom, it only made sense for Hollywood to be this fantasy character’s next path to tread under his sandaled feet.

Ridley Scott… Oliver Stone… Many talented directors attempted to bring “Conan The Barbarian” to theaters before writer/director John Milius’ inspired script finally got it right and brought the project to fruition. John’s vision, which some critics called “horribly violent” and “sexist”, captured the true lifeblood and essence of the Hyborian Age and all its brutality and sinister ways. Directed on location in Spain for Universal Pictures, it starred world renowned bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan of Cimmeria and Shakespearean actor James Earl Jones as the dreaded snake cult leader Thulsa Doom.

As always, making a motion picture about any character with a large fanbase creates controversy, and Conan The Barbarian was no different. Many fans questioned most of the inexperienced cast and their acting ability. Arnold Schwarzenegger was a world champion bodybuilder. Valeria, played by Sandahl Bergman, was a professional dancer. Even the director’s surfing partner took on the role of Subotai. Overwhelmingly, other than James Earl Jones, the cast was perceived as great lot of physical specimens rather than accomplished actors. Confusion also lingered among purists regarding Milius’ choice to retell Conan’s origin, which somewhat contrasted with the purist understanding of the barbarian’s earlier years. But other fans defended the retelling, arguing that creator Robert E. Howard never truly fleshed out Conan’s childhood, only briefly touched upon it. Moreover, they were quite pleased that Milius honored the legacy of Conan by sampling script ideas from many of Conan’s original tales like “The Tower of the Elephant” and “The Thing in the Crypt”.

Whichever side fans took, most couldn’t help not to revel in the sure beauty of the film… especially its Fantasy panting-like cinematography, awe inspiring original score and its seriousness in tone (something sorely missing in the later and utterly inferior sequel.) So, like all forms of media before it, the film Conan The Barbarian was a success and is now considered a classic among fans of the sword & sorcery genre. Conan was once again triumphant.

That same year, Power Records released the story of “Conan The Barbarian” which was surprisingly good among movie adaptation albums of its time. Known more for creating stories for adolescents, it was really quite astonishing to see Power Records adapt a “R” rated film, gloriously filled with masses of graphic violence, explicit nudity and even an orgy! The adaptation did exclude the “worst” parts of the film of course, but most mothers I know would balk upon their children listening to lines like “The last image I saw was my parent’s heads on a pair of Vanir pikes!” This adaptation was obviously made for young adults.

A whole new cast of actors were used, and the actors chosen for Conan, Subotai and The Wizard were an excellent choice. Conan is more intelligent than he appeared in the film, in the vein of the original Robert E. Howard writings. Actually, the original film script called for Conan to have more dialogue and narrate his own story rather than Mako’s ‘The Wizard’ doing the chronicling. But due to Schwarzenegger’s thick accent, much of Conan’s lines were trimmed down and/or removed in trade of Arnold’s powerful visual presence, which is where a problem lies. I actually had trouble appreciating this adaptation at first. Being a great fan of the film, I had the original actor’s voices and their dialogue (or Conan’s lack thereof) imprinted in my mind so deeply, it was hard to listen with a fresh perspective. Challenging yourself to give it a second “go around” is where the reward lies!

Conan narrating his tale is not the only difference between the adaptation and the actual film. Though fans of the film will be pleased to know that practically all of the story differences you hear were actually in the original John Milius script, before they were edited for various creative and/or monetary reasons. Some differences are subtle, like Thulsa Doom’s high priests are named Yaro and Rexor (rather than the familiar Rexor and Thorgrim). Others are larger events, like when Conan and Subotai enter the cities of Zamora looking to plunder the riches of the snake tower. While traveling through the filthy city of Shadizar, the script & adaptation details an extra scene of Conan and Subotai witnessing a snake cult procession moving through the streets. This is where Conan first hears the cursed chant of his nemesis Thulsa Doom since his parent slaying so long ago. He also gets his first glance of the haunting Princess he would later steal for King Osric, as she calls out to Conan from her platform, commanding him to “throw down his sword” in the name of Set. It’s a great scene.

My only gripe with the record adaptation is I wish it featured the film’s original score. While the orchestration Power Records uses is vast and surprisingly well done, it’s hard to stand against the classic work of composer Basil Poledouris. Though, with their excellent cast and matching production values, this can be easily overlooked. Especially when listening to the “new” dialog and scenes ultimately left on the cutting room floor. As a fan of all things Conan and especially the films, it creates quite a thrill and leaves you slightly imagining… what might have been.

Sci-Fi Scoundrels Podcast

February 26, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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SFFaudio Online Audio

Podcasts - Sci Fi ScoundrelsSci-Fi Scoundrels podcast tends heavily towards TV Sci-Fi, but every so often they give their opinions on books. Hosted by the self styled “bad boys” of Sci-Fi the podcast is done very conversationally. Some people claim it is “irreverent” and full of “keen insights.” Myself, I’ve found this roundtable podcast potty-mouthed, low brow and marginally entertaining. Its more for the slow pitch podcast fan who likes swearing for swearing’s sake and also likes Sci-Fi. Check out one of the podcasts to see if this is for you. I’d recommend trying the Ender’s Game show. In that one the Scoundrels bring the goods to the table, critiquing how the elementary age kids of that novel aren’t speaking very realistically. That one is very meta show – but a careful listen will show these guys aren’t quite as dopey as they at first sound.

Sci-Fi Scoundrels – Episode 38 – Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451|MP3|.

Sci-Fi Scoundrels – Episode 51 – Vernor Vinge’s Marooned In Real Time |MP3|.

Sci-Fi Scoundrels – Episode 53 – Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game |MP3|.

Subscribe to the scoundrels via this feed:

http://scifiscoundrels.com/?feed=rss2&category_name=podcasts

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