Review of Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney

May 29, 2008 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audiobook - Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney Invasion of the Body Snatchers
By Jack Finney; Read by Kristoffer Tabori
6 CD – 6.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2007
ISBN: 9780786157815
Themes: / Science Fiction / Invasion / Aliens /

“I warn you that what you’re starting to read is full of loose ends and unanswered questions….Now if you don’t like that kind of story, I’m sorry, and you’d better not read it. All I can do is tell what I know.”—from the book

On a quiet fall evening in the small, peaceful town of Mill Valley, California, Dr. Miles Bennell discovered an insidious, horrifying plot. Silently, subtly, almost imperceptibly, alien life-forms were taking over the bodies and minds of his neighbors, his friends, his family, the woman he loved—the world as he knew it.

First published in 1955, this classic thriller of the ultimate alien invasion and the triumph of the human spirit over an invisible enemy inspired the acclaimed 1956 film, directed by Don Siegel and starring Kevin McCarthy, one of Time magazine’s 100 Best Films.

The image of Donald Sutherland at the end of the 1978 film Invasion of the Body Snatchers—mouth yawning open, eyes rolled back, finger stabbing at the screen—haunted me throughout my childhood. I stumbled onto the now iconic scene while watching television one day and it absolutely traumatized me. I found that alien shriek terrifying, and I still do.

It was with that chilling image gnawing at my mind that I began listening to the audiobook of 1955’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney, upon which the Sutherland and as well as earlier (1956) film are based. I found out early on that, while lacking the visceral fear of the 1978 film, the novel evokes a deeper sense of dread, and also packs some literary and historic heft, including a deft examination of the political landscape of 1950’s America.

While I went into Body Snatchers listening for pure story alone, its subtext was undeniable. Body Snatchers was written during the height of McCarthyism, and you don’t have to try to look for parallels—Body Snatchers is as much a reaction to the existential threat of Communist Russia as it is a book about battling alien invaders.

But Body Snatchers is no simple allegory of the Red Scare, either. Finney also provides a nostalgic snapshot of a simpler time, infusing the story with elements that are largely fond relics these days—soda jerks, doctors’ home visits, and shoe-shine men, for example. Finney sets the book in 1976, but perhaps he sensed that, even in the mid-50’s, those elements of small town America were already starting to fade away. You can’t help but feel a sense of sadness and loss amid the growing horror.

For those who are unfamiliar with the plot of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, it’s a tale about an alien race of seed pods who drift through space, seeking out planets whose life they imitate with perfect simulacrums while the host body is absorbed.

The book opens with the narrator, Miles Bennel, living a quiet, uneventful life as a doctor in the small California town of Santa Mira. But soon a creeping, icy fear begins that builds deliciously over the course of the book, rising to near-panic when we learn the magnitude of the invasion. Remember that this is 1950’s style horror, so there’s no overt bloodshed or gore. But who needs splatterpunk when you’re confronted with an alien, parasitic race intent on consuming all life on the planet? Try to imagine the suffocating paranoia and slowly awakening terror of discovering that people all around you that you thought you new—teachers and sales clerks, husbands and wives—are being replaced by emotionless clones. And no one believes you.

Kristoffer Tabori reads the audio version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and does a wonderful job. He also shares in an interview on the final disc that his father, Don Siegel, directed the original 1957 film by the same name.

This is not a book without some flaws, however. One weakness is the spread of the aliens. At the risk of divulging a minor spoiler, the seed pods absorb their hosts’ bodies by growing in close proximity to their victims, typically in the basement of their homes. The process can take hours or days (how long is never revealed), but it begs the question: If Bennel and his friends managed to stumble upon a clone before it came fully to life, how come more Santa Mira residents didn’t do the same? Are we supposed to believe that every home has a convenient hiding hole in its basement capable of concealing three-foot long green vegetable pods? Also, the ending of the book was a bit of a let-down. I won’t spoil it, but suffice to say it felt a bit tacked-on and unsatisfying.

But, overall, Invasion the Body Snatchers is well-written and thought-provoking sci-fi/suspense, and a fine way to pass the time while commuting amidst the rest of the soulless conformists “packed like lemmings into shiny metal boxes” on their way to the office.

Posted by Brian Murphy

The Mars Phoenix lander brought Science Fiction audio to Mars

May 29, 2008 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

The Mars Phoenix DVD - Messages From EarthThe Mars Phoenix lander carries a mini-DVD loaded with art, produced on Earth, about Mars. And very coolly the audio end of Science Fiction is well represented on the disc! Here’s the official word:

“Radio has been associated with Mars ever since Marconi, Tesla, and Edison each expressed interest in the possibility of radio messages coming from Mars to Earth in the early part of the 20th century. In 1938 Orson Welles and Howard Koch reinterpreted the H.G. Wells novel The War of the Worlds for radio, with unexpected and dramatic results. In a section of this disk called RADIO MARS we present some of that and other broadcasts. Arthur C. Clarke supplied us with the rare radio interview featuring a discussion between H. G. Wells and Orson Welles. The radio documentary about the Viking landing is part of a program I made for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1976, as part of its documentary radio series IDEAS. The producer was Max Allen of the CBC. Allen helped me organize over 100 hours of material recorded on tape cassettes, and mix it into the audio tapestry heard on this disk. The program includes interviews with many of the important science fiction writers who witnessed this historic event at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It was a thrilling occasion — a moment when science fiction and real space exploration truly came together. We hope that this program will convey what it was like on the night when the history of human presence on Mars really began. Seventeen years later, Max Allen played an important role in the creation of this disk: locating the original master tapes of our Viking documentary, remixing and editing the Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds broadcast, and recording the greetings from Judith Merril and Carl Sagan. In general he put the impressive technical and studio facilities of the CBC’s then new national headquarters in Toronto at our disposal. Lorne Tulk, a consummate recording engineer at the CBC, who had mixed the Viking program, lent his skills to the assembly of the RADIO MARS portion of this disk. We are also extremely grateful to the distinguished actor Patrick Stewart, well known in our time for his role on the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, for providing the narration for the audio section. In 1993 it was much easier to store sound than to store moving images on CDs. That is the principal reason for including a section on RADIO MARS as opposed to sequences from film or video images of Mars. Radio as a medium has much to recommend it. You can listen to it while driving, for example. Nothing delights the makers of RADIO MARS more than the thought that one day someone might listen to the Welles or Viking broadcast while piloting a vehicle across the martian deserts or through the martian skies!”

The Mars Phoenix Lander Deck May 26th 2008

And there it is, attached to the deck of the lander (next to the flag), the “Phoenix DVD.” I’ve managed to round up some of the audio found on the disc, from around the net. Check it out…

Carl Sagan |LISTEN|

Arthur C. Clarke |LISTEN|

War of the Worlds |MP3| The 1938 radio drama.

Wells and Welles |MP3| A 1940 non-fiction radio piece in which H.G. Wells and Orson Welles met to discuss War of the Worlds.

The Viking Landings |REALAUDIO EXCERPT| Jon Lomberg’s report on the Viking landing on Mars, July 20, 1976. Includes live recordings from mission control at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, and interviews with science fiction writers and actors.

By the way, the DVD is made of a silica glass (instead of regular plastic) so as to withstand long-term exposure on the Martian surface. Now all those Martians will need is a DVD player.

Also, for those curious about what else the lander is doing on Mars; the latest Planetary Radio podcast (put out by the Planetary Society) talks about the lander’s landing and what it’s going to do now that it has landed |MP3|.

Posted by Jesse Willis

StarShipSofa

May 28, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Star Ship SofaThe StarShipSofa Audio Science Fiction Magazine hits the Internet waves this week with a huge splash of a show in her Aural Delights.

Main Fiction Easy As Pie

by Rudy Rucker.

In a far corner of a distant galaxy spins planet X, a place quite similar to our wonderful Earth.  Like Earth, X is in a planetary system with a chaoticity of six parts per million and, like Earth, X orbits its sun in the third resonance band of its planetary system’s attractor.

Reality, Remastered:  Cognitive Entanglement by Peter Watts

poetry: Godlet by Laurel Winter

Narrators: Mark Nelson, Diane Severson

Subscribe to the podcast via this feed:http://www.starshipsofa.com/rss

Posted by Tony C. Smith

Audible.com and Blackstone Audio Royalties

May 27, 2008 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: News 

SFFaudio News

Audible.comBlackstone AudiobooksRobert J. Sawyer, in answer to a question about the royalties he gets on the sale of his audiobooks, writes:

…on royalties, Audible pays –% (either of the flat-out purchase price, or the purchase cost of the applicable “Audible Listener Credit” applied). Audible doesn’t do any physical product. Blackstone Audio does, though, and they pay:

Rental and Retail 10% of net receipts
Direct internet download 15% of net receipts
Download via (sublicensed) 3rd party 40% of net receipts (that is 40% of whatever they get from Audible or other online retailers).

Net receipts is a tricky phrase: it’s NOT that I get 10% of the price you, the consumer, pays on the cassettes/CDs, but 10% of the portion of that price the bookseller passes on to the publisher — making the effective royalty about 6% of cover price.

So, the royalties are pretty darn small, but, then again, they’re small on books, too (8% on mass-market paperbacks is typical; 7.5% on large format trade-paperbacks; 10% on hardcovers – although at least those amounts are percentages of cover price).

All that said, I’m into five figures on audio-book income actually received so far this year, so I’m not complaining too much (although all of that is advances against royalties, or other licensing fees).”

$??,??? just in audiobook revenues in less than 5 months!

[via the Robert J. Sawyer Yahoo! Group]

Posted by Jesse Willis

UPDATE ON JUNE 4th 2008 Rob Sawyer asked me to remove the Audible.com figures from this post (due to a non-disclosure agreement he has with Audible.com). I’ve done so because I’m nice and he asked me nicely. I like Rob and don’t want to screw up something he was kindly, but mistakenly, telling his readers about.

OnThePod.net – a podcast about Audiobooks, Podcasts and Music

May 27, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

SFFaudio Online Audio

OnThePod.net podcastOnThePod.net podcast talks about audiobooks and podcasts (and music). A couple of the shows interested me, check these out…

On the audiobook of Halo: Contact Harvest by Joseph Staten |MP3|

On Nathan Lowell‘s podiobooks |MP3|

[via Forgotten Classics]

Posted by Jesse Willis

BBC Radio Drama: Stephen King’s Salem Lot (podcast)

May 26, 2008 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Audio Drama, Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Humphrey Camardella - Tales Of Horror podcastThe 1995 BBC radio-dramatization of Stephen King’s horror novel Salem’s Lot was recently serialized by a Humphrey Camardella Media Productions podcast called Tales Of Horror. The production combines the ‘psychological thriller and the classic horror genres, making references to Bram Stoker’s Dracula.’ I was surprised to see this relatively new audio drama in their feed, but perhaps owners Dennis Humphrey and Bob Camardella, have struck a deal with the BBC. Here is the official Humphrey Camardella word:

“The Humphrey Camardella Media Productions (H&C) is a privately-owned media company with offices in Dallas, Texas and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At present H&C publishes 150 podcasts, portaled by the world’s largest distributors and subscribed to by over 2 Million monthly listeners. With over two million monthly listeners we are one of the largest independent media companies in the United States and one of the largest new media companies in the world.”

That is big!

Salem’s Lot
Based on the novel by Stephen King; Performed by a full cast
Seven 30-minute Parts – Approx. 3.5 Hours [RADIO DRAMA]
Podcaster: Tales Of Horror
Podcast: March – May 2008
Ben Mears, a successful writer who grew up in Jerusalem’s Lot, has returned home following the death of his wife. Ben plans to write a book about the Marsten House, an abandoned mansion that gave him nightmares after a traumatic childhood experience.

Part 1 |MP3| Part 2 |MP3| Part 3 |MP3| Part 4 |MP3|
Part 5 |MP3| Part 6 |MP3| Part 7 |MP3|

or subscribe to the podcast feed:

http://horrortales.libsyn.com/

Posted by Jesse Willis

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