Maria Lectrix: Song In A Minor Key by C.L. Moore

July 31, 2009 by · 2 Comments
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From Maureen O’Brien of the Maria Lectrix podcast/blog comes…

“Northwest Smith is one of the great adventurers of Science Fiction, one of that group of cool, gray-eyed men who roam the spaceways and provide much of the inspiration for the legends that are a part of the folklore of space. Here is Northwest Smith, in a rare moment of peace…”

Song In A Minor Key by C.L. MooreSong In A Minor Key
By C.L. Moore; Read by Maureen O’Brien
1 |MP3| – Approx. 7 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: Maria Lectrix
Podcast: July 26, 2009
The last of the Northwest Smith stories, and probably the shortest. First published in the February 1940 issue of the mimeographed fanzine Scienti-Snaps. Later reprinted in Fantastic Universe, January 1957.

[Thanks Maureen!]

Posted by Jesse Willis

Canadian Copyright Consultations: Vancouver

July 31, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
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Tony Clement (Minister Of Industry) and James Moore (Minister of Heritage) announcing copyright consultation

A few days ago the Canadian government’s copyright consultations site posted the audio from the Vancouver consultations. The audio |MP3| shows a wide variety of sensible copyright ideas. But the most pernicious was that of the Entertainment Software Association of Canada‘s 6 minute argument in favour of a more draconian version of the failed Bill C-61 from last year. Their spokesperson, Danielle LaBossiere Parr, argued along these lines…

Premise 1. The video game industry makes $2.2 Billion a year in Canada (if you include “hardware sales”).
Premise 2. The video game industry is extremely lucrative (“we had a record breaking year”).
Premise 3. There’s been a 300% increase in piracy (but video games “haven’t been affected” – and our research shows Canada is twice as bad as the USA).
Premise 4. DRM TPM is good. You don’t need to own or be able to control what we sell you (and we can’t provide essential services without it).

Conclusion: To avoid losing our $2.2 Billion a year business Canada has to make the breaking of DRM a statutory fineable offense and remove judicial oversight from corporate claims of copyright over materials in the public domain.

My analysis:

-Parr’s choice of Steam as an example of good DRM is interesting because it completely bypasses Canadian sales (being that it operates out of the USA and doesn’t collect PST or GST). Also, who knows what percentage of that $2.2B is hardware?

-Premise two seems to be in direct contradiction to premise three.

-Premise Four is the active portion of the argument. If you buy into the idea that TPM (DRM) is good for consumers you can accept it. If you like being prevented from using what you own you’ll like DRM.

-What Parr didn’t say in her speech is that the “entertainment software industry in Canada is export-intensive. Fifty per cent of firms rely on exports for 90-100% of their revenues, much of which comes from the United States.”* That surely doesn’t support her claim that the Canadian industry is threatened unless we make DRM breaking fineable. Her claim that TPMs facilitate “parental controls” and allow games to be distributed on a “trial or demo” basis is belied by the fact that such features have existed without invasive TPM/DRM.

Here’s her full speech (15:46 – 21:16):

“Thank you very much for hosting the consultation we’re very pleased to be at the table. And certainly Minister – took note of your comments this morning., I uh was at the digital forum and I know in a lot of the comments made there was ‘what about content? We need to deal with content’ So was encouraged to hear your comments that this is an important part of the overall digital strategy.

So here we’d agree – we’re here in Vancouver we are the largest, the largest hub for video game development in Canada. Canada in fact is the third largest producer of video games in the world. We are hitting well above our weight class, we are extremely successful and uh we are uh you know right behind Japan and the U.S. and if you look at on a proportional basis with our population it’s especially impressive. Um you know in Canada sales of entertainment software and hardware 2.2 billion dollars it was record breaking year and we’re continuing to see growth. So and I say that because our industry has huge potential for the Canadian economy and uh I think its important to … to think about that when you’re crafting policy to protect intellectual policy.

Um now you might also say, and we’ve heard this argument, ‘well you’re doing so well, why should we worry about you?’ But if you look at our online piracy statistics uh between 2007 and 2008 we saw 300% increase in online piracy. Uh, you know video games are we haven’t been affected as quickly perhaps as music and movies have in part because of our file size, they’re massive. And so as broadband speed catches up it becomes easier and easier to download games online so we really have to take action now action to prevent further harm to our industry.

When it comes to Bill-C61 we were actually really happy with the anti circumvention provisions of Bill-C61. You know certainly from our perspective our business is the sale of intellectual property, we don’t sell concert T-shirts, that sort of thing, we sell intellectual property and that is the backbone of our business and the only way we’re successful.. So certainly creating protection for digital locks is essential and uh we thought that C-61 did a good job at that. On the other side we felt that the ‘notice and notice’ regime in C-61 didn’t go far enough from our perspective. We would like to see ‘notice and takedown.’

And the reason for that is with sales of video games you look at Halo 2 for example, when it was launched, the vast majority of sales was in the first couple of weeks. It’s something like 80 or 90 percent of the sales are right around the launch date. So when a game is made available online, sometimes even before its released, there is a tremendous amount of harm that’s done in terms of sales to legitimate Canadian retailers and to the rights-holders as well. And so that’s why we think notice and takedown is necessary, because the time that you need to take to get an injunction, to have offending content removed, for example, notice and notice doesn’t compel them to remove the content. We feel that a notice and takedown regime would be in the best interest of video game publishers in Canada.

Um, the other thing the other point I’d like to make is that Canada, when it comes to video game piracy is disproportionate in terms of its offending. We did some research with gamers in both Canada and the US and we asked them the same questions. We found that 17% of U.S. consumers or U.S. gamers admitted to owning pirate product. Whereas 34% of Canadians gamers said the same. So it’s double the rate of piracy in Canada. Um, so it’s time to act now I mean certainly circumvention devices and protecting TPMs its allowing content owners to choose the business model that makes sense. And ultimately the market will decide if they don’t think that TPMs are fair or that they don’t like the way the service is being provided ultimately consumers will decide. And the business model will be adapted. But we really do have to offer protection under the law for digital locks or TPMs and allow consumers really to decide.

In terms of the video game example, I’ll sort of conclude I know I’ve talked a lot. Um, we’ve used TPMs in a number of ways. It’s not just preventing piracy, but it’s also allowing more choice for consumers in the sense that … no, services like Steam, for example, that allow you to have a subscription, essentially, to a video game. You can login when you’re traveling, from this computer, or you can login from your home computer, as opposed to only being to access the game when its downloaded on your home PC for example. That’s facilitated by DRM. Um same thing when it comes to parental controls.

So you know if you want to restrict, not allow your kids to play M-rated games for example. Or in World Of Warcraft you don’t want your kid more than 6 hours a week time all of those things are facilitated by DRM. And finally so time trials and VIP areas of sites and allowing people to try before they buy – all thiose jkinds of things that are really beneficial for consumers. Uh you know I think the video game industry has done a real good job of using DRM in a positive way. Thank you.”

There’s also an official transcript |HERE| it includes all the other speakers as well.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Stephen Fry’s history of copyright

July 31, 2009 by · 1 Comment
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Stephen Fry's Podgrams 2.0Stephen Fry’s latest podcast, recorded at the iTunes festival (a U.K. music festival), is a moral history of copyright. After the very funny and informative speech Fry takes questions from the audience and twitter. Is there’s anyone cooler than Stephen Fry? He’s like a comedic John Lennon minus the Yoko.

Have a listen |MP3| or subscribe to the podcast:

Posted by Jesse Willis

BBC R2 / The Hunt For Sexton Blake

July 31, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
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Aural Noir: Online Audio

BBC Radio 2RadioArchive.ccHere’s a reminder that tonight sees the beginning of The Adventures Of Sexton Blake in a six week run on BBC Radio 2. But if you’re still not sure who this Blake bloke is, I’ve got the solution. Using my amazing skills of research ( I’ve uncovered a July 28th, 2009 documentary about this Sexton Blake character. It’s called The Hunt For Sexton Blake and runs a full hour. Interested parties can find the well seeded torrent for it through It’s filed in the “factual” section there. Here’s the description:

BBC Radio 2 - The Hunt For Sexton BlakeWho exactly is Sexton Blake? People under the age of 45 might ask that question, but anyone older is likely to have read one of the 4000 stories by over 200 authors, or seen the films, the stage adaptations, the many TV shows, or listened to his adventures on radio.

Sexton Blake is one of the most famous and long-lived fictional detectives and adventurers of all time, who battled opium smugglers, bandit chiefs and the Kaiser. In his heyday he was more widely read than Sherlock Holmes – enjoyed by working people all over the British Empire – and whilst Holmes features in very few stories, Blake appeared in thousands.

In this hour long profile and exploration of Blake’s impact, David Quantick talks to author Michael Moorcock, who used to edit the Sexton Blake Library; Jack Adrian a former writer; and comic book illustrator Kevin O’Neil, who co-created The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen and other heroes.

That Blake didn’t have the same critical recognition, could be attributed to the fact the stories were published in cheap magazines, rather than in proper books. Or because the writers themselves didn’t move in the right circles, to make friends and influence people. While Ian Fleming had been to Eton and Sandhurst, the Blake authors were a rag tag bunch of eccentrics, whose own lives were worked into the tales. Michael Moorcock tells David that the Blake writers were puzzled at how James Bond was liked by critics, when the early novels were badly plotted and featured cartoon-like villains hiding in volcanoes.

David also hears about the Blake author who vanished under mysterious circumstances. The writer’s wife sent in his remaining Blake manuscripts without saying he’d disappeared, and then passed off her new partner’s work as that of her dead husband. It wouldn’t take Sexton Blake to tell you there was something fishy going on there!

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of On Basilisk Station by David Weber

July 31, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
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Ed. – Welcome to Paul [W] Campbell, prestidigitator with Cossmass Productions. This is his first review for SFFaudio.

Science Fiction Audiobook - On Basilisk Station by David WeberOn Basilisk Station (Book One in the Honor Harrington Series)
By David Weber; Read by Allyson Johnson
15 Hours, 15 Minutes – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: 2009
ISBN: 9781423393382 (CD)
Themes: / Science Fiction / Military SF / War / Space Opera / Politics /

On Basilisk Station is the first of Weber’s Honor Harrington series. A great space opera that quickly builds up to a full out war between the Star Kingdom of Manticoran and her allies against the aggressive and expansionist Republic of Haven. So far there are eleven main novels in the series in print, plus over a half-dozen anthologies and spin-offs.

Mankind has spread out into the stars using a form of Hyperspace which offers the ability of sail along dangerous gravity waves at hundreds, even thousands, of times the speed of light. Some star systems are linked by wormhole termini that offer instantaneous travel between their end points. The benefit to interstellar trade and to fleet maneuvers that this offers is significant. Thus, Basilisk Station is the Royal Manticoran Navy’s picket at one such wormhole. In fact it is a collection of several wormholes that turn the star system of Basilisk into a major hub for commerce. Unfortunately the Republic of Haven’s economy is straining and they are looking at the worlds on the
far side of Basilisk as candidates to bolster their economy. Of course, having Basilisk Station under their control would make their annexation efforts and resultant ‘trade’ much simpler.

Commander Honor Harrington finds her aged and understrength ship being responsible for the entire picket On Basilisk Station. Her crew blame her for their posting to this punishment detail. Honor has been set up to fail. The Havenites are plotting to invade, the aboriginals on the planet below are taking homicide inducing drugs and her Executive Officer hates her.

As an opening volume in a series of this size, On Basilisk Station sets the initial pieces on the board for the following books and the war that develops. However, it doesn’t feel like that is what it is doing. The story is self contained and complete, as are all of the books in the series. Later books do benefit from reading the preceding ones, but it isn’t required. But, I’m not reviewing the series here. It can be a little heavy on the info-dumps at times, such as the history of the Founding of the Manticoran Nobility, Gravity Sails and a few others. Allyson Johnson gets through them well enough, but in audio they do interrupt the flow of the story. Otherwise she brings all the characters to life very well and covers quite a range, from Honor’s soprano all the way down to some gruff old sailors indeed.

Actually hearing Honor’s dialog in a soprano was quite jarring at first as I had read the books before and hadn’t properly assimilated that aspect of her character. Allyson stays truer to the characters and their voices than I had when reading myself. A good performance overall.

There was some slight confusion at times during the climactic battle as the point of view jumped from ship to ship. In print there would be a clear break in the text, but here the scenes flow together perhaps a little too quickly. They do resolves with a few seconds that there has been a scene change, but it still threw me a couple of times.

If you like your space opera with a well thought out political backdrop and with space battles that take into account the danger aboard ship and the scale of space, then On Basilisk Station should keep you happy.

Posted by Paul [W] Campbell

Recent Arrivals from Brilliance Audio

July 31, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
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SFFaudio Recent Arrivals

Science Fiction Audiobook - Honor of the Queen by David WeberThe Honor of the Queen (Honor Harrington, Book 2)
By David Weber; Read by Allyson Johnson
13 CDs – 16 Hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: 2009
ISBN: 9781423395287

It’s hard to give peace a chance when the other side regards conquest as the only option and a sneak attack as the best means to that end. That’s why the Kingdom of Manticore needs allies against the Republic of Haven—and the planet Grayson is strategically situated to make a very good ally indeed. But Her Majesty’s Foreign Office overlooked a “minor cultural difference” when they chose Honor Harrington to carry the flag: women on the planet of Grayson are without rank or rights and Honor’s mere presence is an intolerable affront to every male on the planet.

At first Honor doesn’t take it personally; where she comes from gender discrimination is barely a historical memory, right up there in significance with fear of the left-handed. But in time such treatment becomes taxing and she makes plans to withdraw until Grayson’s fratricidal sister planet attacks without warning. Now, Honor must stay and prevail, not just for her honor, but for her sovereign’s, for the honor of the Queen.

“Following in the best tradition of C.S. Forester, Patrick O’Brian and Robert A Heinlein! These hugely entertaining and clever adventures are the very epitome of space opera.”—Publishers Weekly

Science Fiction Audiobook - Honor of the Clan by John Ringo and Julie CochraneHonor of the Clan
By John Ringo and Julie Cochrane; Read by Marc Vietor
12 CDs – 14 Hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: 2009
ISBN: 9781423395133

Three words that resound in the heart of the warrior. But what is duty when country is gone? Where does honor lie when allies are revealed as enemies, when friends are not who they seem and when enemies are the ones we love?

The Indowy “Bane Sidhe” conspiracy has grown strong, and the cunning and resourceful Darhel—tacit rulers of the Galactic Federation—have decided that the time has come to wipe that threat from the stars forever. What the Darhel don’t know is that humans have joined the rebellion—led by thief and assassin extraordinaire, Cally O’Neal. Now Cally is set to destroy a web of alien deceit millennia in the making. Only one obstacle lies in her path: the renowned warrior who stood tall and saved Earth from utter destruction during its first invasion by alien hordes—a legend who also happens to be Cally’s father!

Multiple New York Times best-selling John Ringo’s “Legacy of Aldenata” saga continues as beautiful assassin Cally O’Neal returns in a gripping interplanetary thriller.
Posted by Scott D. Danielson

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