Review of Voyagers by Ben Bova

August 31, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews, SFFaudio essential 

 SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audiobooks - Voyagers by Ben BovaVoyagers
By Ben Bova; Read by Stefan Rudnicki
12 CDs -13 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Sample: Click here
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2006
ISBN: 0786167424
Themes: / Science Fiction / Alien Contact / Space Program / Politics / Religion /

Voyagers is a superior first contact novel. It was originally published in 1981, but it holds up extremely well, especially since our space program has not changed all that much in the past 26 years. But the novel’s setting is the now that was then, which means the United States and USSR are the two superpowers and the only two countries with space programs.

The book starts off in a similar way to Clarke’s Rendezvous With Rama. An alien craft has been detected, and it’s in the solar system. Those in the know have no clue what the ship wants – are the aliens hostile or friendly? What does this mean for humanity?

From there the story takes a tack similar to another Clarke novel – 2010: Odyssey Two, but Clarke’s book was published a year after Bova’s. The United States and the USSR decide to cooperate rather than fight. The underlings (i.e. the folks doing the actual work) are ready and willing to do so, but the politicians spend their time pulling the other way. Other internal arguments include everything from “when should we tell the public” to “who gets to go”.

Throughout the novel, Bova takes the time to look around at the world’s reaction as they are informed. Rumors fly and some factions of humanity take action based on those rumors. In short, Bova gives us a fascinating and plausible account of the world’s reaction to first contact. Widespread panic? Don’t think so.

All of this builds up to a truly powerful conclusion. The final two CDs of this audiobook contain the most affecting first contact narrative I’ve ever heard or read. I couldn’t help but to play them both again immediately upon finishing, and I’ve resolved myself to keeping them on my iPod indefinitely so that I’m sure to have them with me next time I find myself in a quiet moment under a starry sky.

Stefan Rudnicki continues to impress with this narration, in which he performs many different voices with many different accents, all effective. Though Bova’s story is Clarke-like, there is much more to work with in the character department than in Clarke’s stories, and this allows Rudnicki the opportunity to shine. Also effective in the audiobook are the chapter breaks, each of which is read by a different narrator and each of which contain thought-provoking stuff, from quotes of real-life scientists to news stories that are part of the fiction. I greatly appreciate this kind of thing in an audiobook because it provides a true break as effective as a new chapter in text. All too often, audiobooks don’t create this break for the listener, resulting in a few moments of disorientation as the listener mentally moves to a new setting and/or POV. No such problem here – the prominent breaks are much appreciated.

Podcast/Radio Show: This Week In Geek interviews Rick Green

August 29, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Online Audio

This Week In GeekThis Week In Geek is both a radio broadcast and a podcast. Hosts, Mike Dodd, Steve Saylor and Ashlee Kivell cover all sorts of geeky stuff. But I’ve been holding off telling you about them until this long promised show would air – just yesterday. The podcast for it is up now…

Here’s the description:

“If you grew up in the 1980’s like we did watching Canadian Television, there is one geek that has stood the test of time that taught young geeks everywhere. Yes, today we talk to Prisoners of Gravity, History Bites, and The Red Green Show co-creator/comedian writer Rick Green!

It was an awesome pleasure to speak to Commander Rick himself, and if you ever picture what TWiG would’ve been if we were on TV in the 80’s Rick Green’s projects were it.”

This is one terrific interview, perhaps it is even the coolest interview ever podcast. My good friend Rachelle Shelkey, of Signal Loss website (the Prisoners Of Gravity fansite) was brought in to make the interview even better. Have a listen |MP3|.

You can subscribe to the podcast via this feed:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/thisweekingeek

Also, we don’t often make non-audio recommendations but I’ll do so now, let me recommend a DVD:

History Bites - The First Collection DVD
History Bites – The First Collection (DVD)

History Bites is a history show (made in Canada) that uses a ridiculous science fiction premise (that television has been around since the dawn of man) to great comedic and educational effect. This show is jam packed with history done up as television in short skits. Rick Green is the host, if you liked Prisoners of Gravity, you’ll dig It is history, just funnier and more educational.

The DVD is available through Amazon.ca, we’ve got no affiliate tag on this, I’m just a big fan of the show and I think you’ll love it too.

Global warming audio drama to air on BBC R4

August 29, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama 

Online Audio

Online AudioOur U.K. contributor Roy has his eye on an upcoming BBC Radio 4 programme. Roy writes:

“Coming up on BBC R4…

Drowning
by Mike Walker @ 14:15 – 15:00 on Friday 7th September 2007. Says the Radio Times… ‘Mike Walker’s play set in a near-future Norfolk suffering the effects of global warming. Solicitor Richard Parker returns to his childhood home to clear his late aunt’s property but discovers nothing is as it should be. With just 24 hours to complete the task, he finds himself diverted by a series of extraordinary events.’ I don’t know how much this might qualify as ‘SF’, but Mike Walker does have a track record of previous genre productions on BBC radio (2025 in 1998 and Alpha in 2001).”

Thanks Roy, we’ll keep an ear out for it!

Star Ship Sofa podcast tops iTunes U.K. Podcast Page

August 29, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

SFFaudio News - Worldcon 2007

iTunes StarShipSofa

The iTunes U.K. Podcast Directory main page has a bloody big ad up for StarShipSofa today!

Tony Smith, one-half of the SSS’s command crew tells me that each week now as many as 1800 subscribers downloading their podcast. You can download their latest show, Episode 54 |MP3|, which is all about the Hugo Nominated novels for this year. Tony’s got his money on Eifelheim by Michael Flynn, Ciaran‘s got his on Rainbow’s End by Vernor Vinge.

Jesse Willis

Tor Books begins podcasting for Worldcon 2007

August 28, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

SFFaudio Online Audio - Worldcon 2007

TOR PodcastingTor, perhaps the most popular publisher of deadtree SF and Fantasy books has decided to get into podcasting. They’ve got a couple of blurbs up on the new Tor podcast website and a 22 second MP3 file in the feed. Here are the blurbs:

“Subscribe to Tor Podcasts and listen to the latest from Tor Authors and Editors, delivered right to your MP3 player.”

and

“Tor kicks off the very first of their podcasts with coverage of the Nippon2007 WorldCon from Yokohama Japan. Join Tom Doherty and Patrick Nielsen Hayden for the exciting event.”

There’s also a press release that says this:

“Tor Books, an imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC–the largest publisher of science fiction in the world–is pleased to announce its first ever podcast from the 65th World Science Fiction Convention in Yokohama, Japan this August 30th – September 4th, 2007.

Tor Publisher, Tom Doherty, and Senior Editor, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, will podcast directly from the Nippon2007 Worldcon, marking the first time that Worldcon has ever taken place in Japan. This international podcasting event will kick off Tor’s podcasting program, which will continue with regularly scheduled podcasts on September 12th.

The daily podcasts from the convention will cover the events there, as well as interviews with notable authors and editors and perhaps a few surprise guests. These podcasts will be available for download from iTunes, Yahoo and Google, through RSS–and individuals can also tune in to them directly from the Tor website at www.tor-forge.com/podcasts.

The tor.com podcast launch heralds the beginning of several exciting digital businesses that Tor will be launching in the coming months–designed to make Tor the leading online destination for the Science Fiction community.”

Could be very cool. Incidentally, they’ve got the title of their podcast modestly listed in iTunes as “The Very Best Of Science Fiction And Fantasy” – hopefully the podcast will live up to the title’s claim.

You can subscribe to the feed via this url:

http://www.tor-forge.com/GenerateRSS.ashx?type=itunes

Record your Online Audio with Freecorder

August 28, 2007 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio News

Applian TechnologiesSpeaking of Online Audio, and we do that a lot, I thought I’d mention a new tool for recording it. Frustrated Windows Vista users especially will want to give this software a shot. While there may be easier ways to record streaming audio using Vista, I sure haven’t found one as easy as Freecorder. This is a free Firefox (and Internet Explorer) browser plugin that lets you record any sounds coming through your web browser as either a WAV or MP3. The coolest part is that Freecorder doesn’t include any of the sounds made by your regular computer usage during recording (like the sound made by emptying a recycling bin, or those pesky error message dings). I recorded all three parts of ABC Radio National’s It Just Stopped this way. I sure wish I’d have had this back when The Seeing Ear Theater files were still around. Here’s a snippet from the press release:

“Applian Technologies has just released the Freecorder Toolbar Sound Recorder, a free audio capture program for Windows Vista which restores the audio recording functionality previously available in prior versions of Windows.

Using a new driverless recording process developed by Applian, the software allows customers to capture audio as MP3 files from virtually any application or internet stream. Freecorder Toolbar is free, and available today from www.freecorder.com.”

Prior to Vista, all PCs had relatively easy access to recording web audio. But Windows Vista has severely restricted our ability to record Online Audio. Apparently this is caused by new driver signing requirement of Windows Vista. Know of a better universal workaround? Let us know!

[via Download Squad via Pocket PC Louisville]

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