The Tolkien Professor: Lectures on J.R.R. Tolkien

June 30, 2009 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

The Tolkien Professor
The Tolkien Professor podcast is a series of lectures on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien by Corey Olsen, Assistant Professor of English at Washington College in Maryland. Sez Olsen:

“In my lectures, I am working through The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings in detail, doing close readings of the stories (and the songs!) in order to explore the fascinating details of Tolkien’s world while also tracking some of the large, important themes in Tolkien’s fiction. I am currently in the middle of my eight-part series on The Hobbit; read along with me! After you listen, swing by my website to take part in my discussion board or to check out my online Tolkien bookstore.”

I’m going to be listening to these lectures soon!

Olsen is a big proponent of audio in academe, he’s performed Thomas Malory’s The Tale of Sir Lancelot aloud, and he’s the narrator of an unabridged recording of William Langland’s Piers Plowman (in Middle English).

Podcast feed:

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

[Thanks Julie!]

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Julian Comstock by Robert Charles Wilson

June 30, 2009 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audiobook: Julian Comstock by Robert Charles WilsonJulian Comstock: A Story of the 22nd Century
By Robert Charles Wilson; Read by Scott Brick
21 Hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Published: 2009
Themes: / Science Fiction / Government / Aristocracy / History / Politics / Global Warming / Civilization / Theocracy /

The United States of America has changed. Global warming fears have come to pass, Christian groups have become a stronger part of the government (practically its own branch, called The Dominion), aristocracy has ascended because fewer and fewer have access to so much. The average citizen in this 22nd century view of the future have taken a step backward. The scientific past has retreated into myth, and superstition rules the day.

In short, Robert Charles Wilson has taken a particular view of what the United States is and has taken it to extremes in “if this should continue” science fiction tradition. The characters do not feel futuristic – instead they feel historical. Like Firefly in a way, the characters are straight from the 19th century. This creates a very interesting juxtaposition of time: A possible future that’s really a look at the present, but with characters that feel historical. Sci-Fi Wire quotes Wilson on this:

The past regarding the present from the future—that’s a literary effect only science fiction can achieve, and that’s what I was aiming for, a kind of simultaneous triple perspective. We think of the past as quaint and the present as mundane and the future as, well, futuristic—but so did our great-grandparents, and so will our great-grandchildren. ‘All times have been modern,’ as the French composer Nadia Boulanger said.

The novel is told by Adam Hazzard, a friend of Julian Comstock, who is aristocrat (the Comstock family has held the Presidency for years and years). Hazzard tells us right up front that he’s writing this biography of Comstock because Comstock has become a great man.

The first scenes have the two as young men looking through a pile of discarded books. They take what they can carry, but Comstock gives a specific book to Hazzard; a history of manned exploration of the Moon. Hazzard doesn’t believe such things actually happened, but accepts the book anyway, and wonders.

From there, Hazzard uses events like this one to show readers the life of Comstock, but everything is colored through Hazzard’s point of view. In a way, the book is like a Sherlock Holmes novel, but Wilson has created a much more interesting character in Hazzard than Doyle ever did with Watson.

Scott Brick takes full advantage of the Hazzard character, and does well with the 19th century sensibility of all the characters. This book has a whole lot of detail and a whole lot of lengthy conversation between the main characters about various subjects. Brick keeps it interesting, like he always does. We even get to hear him speak French when the characters spend time in Montreal.

This novel is rich and draws on a rich tradition. A Canticle for Leibowitz, The Postman, and Earth Abides all leap to mind, but this isn’t a homage or a retelling of those books. This is a story that looks at the present in a way that only science fiction can.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

New Releases – Vintage SF – Frederik Pohl, Robert Bloch, Leigh Brackett and more

June 30, 2009 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: New Releases 

New Releases

Wow! Five Great New Titles from Wonder Audio!

This Crowded EarthThis Crowded Earth and Other Stories
By Robert Bloch; Read by William Coon
6hr, 39 min.- [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Wonder Audio
Published: 2009Available at Audible & iTunes

Life changes on Earth when the population tips the scales at over X billion people. Harry lives in a single room without a window and hates the commutrain ride, which is like the black hole of Calcutta on wheels. If he can get his private car out of commugarage, he might be able to get to work on time. If only it wasn’t for his headaches….

Also included are the stories “The Old College Try”, “Black Bargain”, “Founding Fathers”, and “A Good Imagination”.

By Frederik Pohl & C.M. Kornbluth; Read by Mark Douglas Nelson
5hr, 34min – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Wonder Audio
Published: 2009

Available at Audible & iTunes

“A work of sheer, exuberant imagination.” (Arthur C. Clarke)

The Earth has forcibly been taken from its orbit. It began with an extra-terrestrial pyramid on top of Mt. Everest. And then a “runaway planet” took the Earth as its binary. And now harsh generations have passed since the inhabitants last saw the light of their sun, Sol.

Society has grown rigid. The meek lambs have inherited the Earth, even if it’s a very poor Earth, indeed. It’s a hard world for all. But Glenn Tropile is no lamb, and if his citizens finds out he’s a wolf, it will be the wolf that goes to slaughter.

Four Sided Triangle The Four-Sided Triangle
By William F. Temple; Read by Tim Rowe
53min – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Wonder Audio
Published: 2009

Joan Leeton was certainly a lovely girl. A perfect girl for an English scientist to fall in love with. Unfortunately for Will Fredericks and Bill Josephs that’s exactly what happened, to both of them – and to the same girl too, Joan! But they were no ordinary scientists, and they created the most marvelous invention. A device that could perfectly replicate anything. But could it replicate a lovely girl named Joan Leeton? Could they create a love triangle with four people?

A classic story from Science Fiction’s Golden Age. First published in Amazing Stories in 1939.

The Vanishing Venusians The Vanishing Venusians
By Leigh Brackett; Read by Mark Douglas Nelson
1hr 20min – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Wonder Audio
Published: 2009

Matt Harker and his people have journeyed for far too long. They’re a rag-tag group of Earthmen and Venusians floating on the Sea of Morning Opals… floating without a home and with very little hope, victimized by hostile natives, burning fevers, bad soil, and bad luck.

When land is sighted, Harker makes the decision to scale the mountainous terrain in the dim hopes of finding a new home. With two companions, he ascends to encounter unknown malevolent alien beings. Harker thought he’d be lucky to find a habitable land – but now he thinks he will be lucky to just survive!

Plague of Pythons Plague of Pythons
By Frederik Pohl; Read by Mark Douglas Nelson
4hrs 9min – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Wonder Audio
Published: 2009

The pythons had entered into Mankind. No man knew at what moment he might be possessed! On Christmas, the world’s freedom died. Every man, woman and child lay in the grip of fear, for no one knew at what moment his nearest friend or a casual stranger might suddenly be possessed by some brutal mind… and begin to murder and destroy.

For Chandler it was worse than for most. He was both victim and executioner. He had suffered himself, and he had committed a violent crime while under the strange domination. Accused of hoaxing, he was driven from his home. He wandered the world and found it smashed like a spoiled child’s plaything. Now Chandler was in the very presence of the destroyers! But what could one person do against such power? The power of gods!

Did you know you can get either of these titles, as well as any other Wonder Audio title for just $7.49? Just sign up at

Posted by The Time Traveler of the Time Traveler Show

J.J. Campanella’s Science News Update

June 28, 2009 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Uvula AudioJames Campanella might be the busiest man in the universe. He’s a podcaster, an audiobook narrator, a Science Fiction writer, a university professor, a scientist and science popularizer (and maybe a dad or something too who knows). How does he do it all?

No clue. I’m just glad he does.

If you know him its probably from his work on StarShipSofa‘s Aural Delights. Not only does James do some of the best damned narration on the podcast, he also does a science essay segment. Those essays are like being read the best articles in Scientific American or Discover magazine but with a friendly scientist commenter who’ll explain some of the implications. He’s basically a 21st century Isaac Asimov in that respect.

I recently mentioned my fondness for his science segments and Jim pointed out he’s got a separate podcast feed for them. Wow!

J.J. Campanella’s Science News Update

Podcast feed:

Posted by Jesse Willis

BBC 7: Scots Gothic – the influence of Scotland on Edgar Allan Poe

June 27, 2009 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

BBC Radio 7 - BBC7If you love Edgar Allan Poe (and really who doesn’t?) you’ll want to get your mitts on today’s BBC 7 documentary!

Scots Gothic – A Portrait Of Edgar Allan Poe In Ayrshire
1 Broadcast – Approx. 30 Minutes [DOCUMENTARY]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 7
Broadcast: June 27th 2008 @ 9am and 7pm
Billy Kay investigates the impact of Scotland and its culture on the great American author Edgar Allan Poe. As a boy, Poe made an extended visit to Ayrshire in the company of his Scots-born foster father – where the vivid local folklore, bodysnatching stories and school task of recording graveyard epitaphs are all believed to have influenced the development of Poe’s dark imagination. Local historians discuss this world of “Scots Gothic”, with readings from John Buick and Keith Fleming.

It’s already in the “Listen Again” section! Go check it out!

Posted by Jesse Willis

Forgotten Classics: The Moon-spinners by Mary Stewart

June 26, 2009 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

Aural Noir: Online Audio

Forgotten ClassicsOn her latest Forgotten Classics podcast my friend Julie Davis has an excerpt from a 1962 novel by Mary Stewart called The Moon-spinners.

Young, beautiful and adventurous, Nicola Ferris loves her life as a secretary at the British Embassy on the lush island of Crete. Then, on her day off, she links up with two hiking companions who have inadvertently stumbled upon a scene of blood vengeance. And suddenly the life Nicola adores is in danger of coming to an abrupt, brutal, and terrifying end…

Wikipedia says Stewart is one of the founders of the “romantic suspense subgenre” which blends romance with mystery. She also wrote a bunch of King Arthur/Merlin novels. Chivers Audio (now called BBC Audiobooks) recorded a bunch of unabridged Mary Stewart novels back in the 1980s and 1990s, they’re rather hard to find now and quite collectible.

Going back to the podcast – I always dig Julie’s picks as they’re typically something I’ve never read and at the same time well worth reading. The one drawback, her podcasts tend to make me hungry. Have a listen |MP3|.

Subscribe to the feed:

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

Posted by Jesse Willis

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