Aural Noir Review of Gentlemen Of The Road by Michael Chabon

May 31, 2010 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Aural Noir, Reviews 

Aural Noir: Review

RANDOM HOUSE AUDIO - Gentleman Of The Road by Michael ChabonGentlemen Of The Road: A Tale Of Adventure
By Michael Chabon; Read by Andre Braugher
Audible Download – Approx. 4 Hours 13 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: October 2007
Provider: Audible.com
Themes: / Adventure / Crime / Jewishness / War / Politics / Mercenaries / Con-men / Khazaria /

Gentlemen Of The Road was first published as a serial in The New York Times Magazine. Despite it’s sword and sorcery feel, it is not actually a Fantasy novel, but is instead a “swashbuckling adventure” set in an obscure, but real, historical setting. Its heroes, Amram and Zelikman, are an odd, but vaguely familiar, pair. Familiar in their companionable rivalry and clearly inspired by Fritz Leiber’s famed pair of characters: Fafhrd and Grey Mouser. But, instead of one being a short, urban thief and the other a hulking Northern barbarian, the two are instead the titular gentlemen of the road, wandering Jews, or as Chabon himself states in the audiobook’s afterword “Jews With Swords.” And that’s what was really important in this story; though each of these two Jews looks entirely unalike from the other, they are tied together by far flung tradition, common heritage and similar tales of woe. The larger of the pair is Amram, a swarthy Abyssinian with a penchant for shatranj and quite literally an axe to grind. The slighter and paler of the pair is Zelikman, a fair haired Frank, who far from being a member of the thieves guild is actually a doctor (he wields an “over-sized bloodletting lance as a rapier”). Together they are a neat pair of dark age sell-swords/con-men, working the taverns and inns of southern Eurasia. It is, all in all, one of the neatest set-ups for a book I’ve ever heard. And you couldn’t find a funner fictional premise for illustrating the Jewish diaspora in an adventure novel.

One evening (circa AD 950), a chance encounter at a roadside inn in the kingdom of Aran leads to a body-guard job. The job involves a journey to the neighboring khaganate of Khazaria. Along the way they meet many a fellow road traveler and have some less than polite encounters. Eventually, Amram and Zelikman (A & Z) find themselves fully entangled in a rebellion and plot aimed at restoring a displaced Khazar prince to the throne.

Narrator Andre Braugher is a television actor that I’ve admired since his portrayal of the unwaveringly professional detective Frank Pembelton on Homicide: Life on The Street. Braugher has a powerful voice that he uses to deliver Chabon’s ornately constructed descriptive scenes and dialogue. You can tell, with every sentence of Braugher’s delivery, that Chabon loves language. I thoroughly enjoyed the book after I got into it. But it wasn’t easy, I really had to shift gears. This is embellished storytelling, it feels both old-fashioned and unrepentantly ostentatious. It has very little of the usual fantasy stylings, it dumps any ordinary flat or prosaic description in favour of the deliberately lavish. Once I did get into it, I loved it. There’s a lot of detail to enjoy here. Chabon’s hulking Abyssinan, for instance, has a battle-axe. He gained it after combat with the Varangian Guard in Byzantium. A runic inscription on it roughly translates into “defiler of your mother.” Another writer would have done it another way – another writer wouldn’t have done it at all. This is what makes Chabon, his books and this novella in particular so special.

Sadly, the audiobook lacks the map and the 15 terrific black and white illustrations (by Gary Gianni ) found in the paperbook. Here is a peek at both:

Gentlemen Of The Road - MAP

Gentlemen Of The Road - PAGE 161

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #060

May 31, 2010 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #060 – Jesse and Scott talk about recently arrived audiobooks!

Talked about on today’s show:
Roger Ebert’s review of The Human Centipede, BoingBoing, World Horror Convention 2008, Salt Lake City, how the horror genre has changed, Hater by David Moody |READ OUR REVIEW|, anti-Americanism, Your Movie Sucks by Roger Ebert, Awake In The Dark by Roger Ebert, Roger Ebert’s review of Reservoir Dogs, recent arrivals, Tantor Media, The Horror Stories Of Robert E. Howard, Pigeons From Hell, Worms Of The Earth, The Cairn On The Headland, I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells, Dexter as a teenager, Columbine by Dave Cullen |READ OUR REVIEW|, the Writing Excuses Podcast, LUTE Brigham Young University, Mr. Monster by Dan Wells, The Eerie Silence by Paul Davies, science, SETI, Scott’s Pick Of The Week: Goodreads.com, social networking that works, Beowulf by Anonymous, Seamus Heaney‘s translation, The Epic Of Gilgamesh BBC Audio Drama, RadioArchive.cc, City Of Dragons by Kelli Stanley, the Bish’s Beat blog, private investigation, San Fransisco, The Spanish Civil War, Brilliance Audio, High Deryni by Katherine Kurtz, The Tales Of Dying Earth, Rhialto the Marvelous by Jack Vance, Seeing Ear Theatre, The Moon Moth by Jack Vance |READ OUR REVIEW|, social science fiction, Tale Of The Thunderbolt by E.E. Knight, vampires, alien invasion, The Space Vampires by Colin Wilson, Lifeforce, Vampires by John Steakley, what Steakley is doing with his novels (examining one small aspect of violence), The Guns Of August by Barbara Tuchman, Heist Society by Ally Carter, Luke Burrage’s review of Robert J. Sawyer’s Calculating God on the Science Fiction Book Review Podcast, WWW: Watch by Robert J. Sawyer, The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi, the Nebula awards, reading the Hugo nominees, Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast by Eugie Foster |READ OUR REVIEW|, Lawrence Santoro, Eros Philia Agape by Rachel Swirsky, Blackstone Audio, Enchantment by Orson Scott Card, Stefan Rudnicki, Sleeping Beauty, Jesse’s Pick Of The Week: Snow Glass Apples by Neil Gaiman, Snow White And the Seven Dwarfs, Bebe Neuwirth, The Dreaming blog, Murder Mysteries by Neil Gaiman, Nadya by Pat Murphy, werewolves, Poland, California, 19th century, Rachel In Love by Pat Murphy, Vampire Zero by David Wellington, civil war, The Bradbury Report by Steven Polansky, The Island, did Ray Bradbury write a cloning story?, what’s the best cloning novel you’ve ever read?, cloning doesn’t really live in fiction, Surrogates, Kiln People by David Brin, Cyteen by C.J. Cherryh, Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm, Mimic by Donald A. Wollheim, Red Dwarf is a great hard Science Fiction series!, “what’s the best cloning novel?”, Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth, Bronson Pinchot, “shadowy conspiracy” = “secret secret”, The Bradbury 13 by Ray Bradbury, radio drama, The Hitch-hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy isn’t audio drama’s best exemplar (The Bradbury 13 is), City Of Truth by James Morrow, satire, religion, The Invention Of Lying, This Is The Way the World Ends by James Morrow, PaperbackSwap.com, Dan Carlin’s Common Sense podcast, oligarchy, talking points, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Obamacare, “-gate” is not a suffix meaning scandal, the difference between English and French, words map the world, words are the magic in our world, ZBS Foundation, Dinotopia: The World Beneath (audio drama), Yuri Rasovsky, a kid who doesn’t like dinosaurs?, Blake’s 7: The Early Years: Zen: Escape Velocity, Robin Hood, Zen and the Liberator is like Blake’s Sherwood Forest! Babylon 5, J. Michael Straczynski’s City Of Dreams.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Copyfight: Canadian Federation of Students vs. Canada’s DMCA

May 29, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

SFFaudio News

The Canadian Federation of Students has a new video designed to rally Canadian students for the fight against the forthcoming DMCA-style copyright bill.

[via MichaelGeist.ca]

Posted by Jesse Willis

LibriVox: The Planet Savers by Marion Zimmer Bradley

May 29, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

LibriVoxMarion Zimmer Bradley is best known as the author of The Mists Of Avalon, but her most long running series is set not in a fantasy middle ages of Earth, but rather on a far future Earth colony called Darkover. There are more than 40 books in the Darkover series. We have the very first one now available, thanks to LibriVox.org and the laudable narrator Mark Douglas Nelson!

The story’s pretty cool too, it’s told in first person by Dr. Jay Allison, an amnesiac. Allison shortly discovers that he is the only doctor on the planet qualified to solve the coming medical crisis, a “48-year fever” that’s a planetary pandemic that recurs at 48 year intervals. Making things even more difficult, we soon discover that his amnesia, is actually being caused by his multiple personality disorder (aka dissociative identity disorder).

The Planet Savers was first published as a “short novel” in a 1958 issue of Amazing Science Fiction magazine. In 1962 it became immortalized as one half of one of the famed Ace Doubles series (# F-153):

ACE DOUBLE (F-153) The Planet Savers by Marrion Zimmer Bradley

LIBRIVOX - The Planet Savers by Marion Zimmer BradleyThe Planet Savers
By Marion Zimmer Bradley; Read by Mark Douglas Nelson
4 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 3 Hours 11 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 28, 2010
The Terran colony on the planet Darkover faces imminent destruction by a plague of the deadly Trailmen’s Fever. The only hope is to develop a serum in time, but this requires the cooperation of the elusive native Trailmen, the brilliant parasitologist Dr. Jay Allison, and his split personality. First published in Amazing Science Fiction Stories, November 1958.

Podcast feed: http://librivox.org/rss/4246

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

Part 1 |MP3| Part 2 |MP3| Part 3 |MP3| Part 4 |MP3|

Here is a map of the planet Darkover (created for Wikipedia by David Speakman):

Map Of Darkover

[Thanks also to Betty M. and Diana Majlinger]

Posted by Jesse Willis

New Releases: The Whisperer In Darkness by H.P. Lovecraft

May 26, 2010 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: New Releases 

New Releases

FANTOM FILMS - The Whisperer In Darkness by H.P. LovecraftThe Whisperer In Darkness
By H.P. Lovecraft; Read by Phil Reynolds
3 CDs or Audible Download – Approx. 2 Hours 53 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Fantom Films
Published: April 2010
Sample |MP3|
Considered to the be one of most influential American authors, Howard Philip Lovecraft is synonymous with some of the best fantasy and horror fiction of the 20th century, second only to Edgar Allan Poe. When local newspapers report strange things seen floating in rivers during a historic Vermont flood, Albert Wilmarth becomes embroiled in a controversy about the reality and significance of the sightings, however it isn’t until he receives communication from Henry Wentworth Akeley that he is offered the proof he requires… First published in Weird Tales August 1931.

And be sure to check out the the trailer for The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society’s movie adaptation:

[via The Cimmerian blog]

Posted by Jesse Willis

Penguicon 2010: Adapting A Novel To A Podcast

May 26, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

The Science Fiction Oral History AssociationRick Jackson, of the Science Fiction Oral History Association, has linked to a convention panel from Penguicon 2010 entitled: Adapting A Novel To A Podcast it features Daniel J. Hogan and Mary Robinette Kowal |MP3|

I should also mention that to assuage my ever increasing guilt at not promoting SFOHA more I’ve dropped $40 into their kitty (which will be used to help “convert our archives to digital format”). But that’s not the only way you can contribute to SFOHA, if you’ve got

[via The Science Fiction Oral History Association and Daniel J. Hogan’s Magic of Eyri site]

Posted by Jesse Willis

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