TED Talk: Elif Şafak on The Politics Of fiction

September 23, 2010 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: News 

SFFaudio News

Elif Şafak present this TED talk about fiction and storytelling. I confess I put off listening to it, I listened to it last when other items on my iPad had run out. TED Talks, after all, are about hard science, data, controversy. I wasn’t planning to listen to a TED talks discussion of fiction.

When I did finally listen, I was in awe. If you watch rather than listen you will see Elif receive a much deserved standing ovation for her presentation on the power of fiction to change the world. Her hypothesis is that that fiction can overcome identity politics. Her advice to writers is that you should not write what you know, you should write what you dream, whatever you can conceive, write beyond the comfort zone about what you feel.

Though I have not read her fiction, I am sold on her passionate view of it. It is the extraordinary, the imaginative in fiction that has a draw for me. Is that why science fiction, at its best, is worthy of my limited time?

She begins with the image of a circle and her personal story. She discusses the importance of connecting with people outside our own circles. “Communities of the like-minded is one of the greatest dangers of today’s globalized world.” She believes fiction can best dispel cultural stereotypes; fiction can end elitism. And, she proves it.

Posted by Elaine Willis

New Releases: Night Of The Living Trekkies by Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall

September 23, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: New Releases 

New Releases

If you like Star Trek and zombies, there’s a book for that. I’m not sure how good the audiobook would be, even after listening to the sample MP3 below, but I am sure the book trailer is most excellent.

RANDOM HOUSE AUDIO - Night Of The Living Trekkies by Kevin David Anderson and Sam StallNight Of The Living Trekkies
By Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall; Read by Zach McLarty
Audible Download – Approx. 6 Hours 41 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: August 2010
ISBN: 9780307877369
Provider: Audible.com
Sample |MP3|
This sci-fi /zombie/comedy/adventure follows a group of rag-tag Trekkies getting together for the fifth annual FedCon (billed as the “largest Starfleet Convention in the western Gulf Coast region”). Our heroes are dressed in homemade uniforms and armed with prop phasers but soon find themselves defending their hotel and convention center against hordes of flesh-eating undead. Suddenly, all of their useless knowledge about particle physics and old Star Trek episodes has genuine real-world applications! And while hotel employees and regular civilians are dying left and right, our Trekkies summon strength and courage by emulating their favorite starship-voyaging characters. Packed with hundreds of gags referencing Star Trek, comic books, and fan conventions, Night Of The Living Trekkies reads like the strange lovechild of Galaxy Quest and Dawn Of The Dead. Journey to the final frontier of zombie science-fiction mash-ups!

[via Bish’s Beat]

Posted by Jesse Willis

Voices In The Wind: The Pigeon Drop

September 22, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Aural Noir, Online Audio 

Aural Noir: Online Audio

David Farquhar, of the audio drama theatre troupe Voices In The Wind, describes The Pigeon Drop as a “little experimental piece” that’s “a full cast reading with music and sound effects.” Myself I think that’s just another way of saying it’s an audio drama with narration. But then I’m saying this because I don’t want to be a pigeon. As the narrator tells in the story: “At this time the pigeons were usually worried at the prospect of the money slipping away. And they were also confused by the double-talk, but were hesitant to admit it, less they appear stupid.” Don’t let David’s words fool you, this is an audio drama (with narration).

Voices In The Wind Audio TheatreThe Pigeon Drop
By Michael A. Black; Adapted by David Farquhar; Performed by a full cast
MP3 Download – Approx. 11 Minutes [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Voices In The Wind
Published: September 2010
A little crime story about the oldest con.

Cast:
KEITH BURNETT: The Narrator
NOELLE DUPUIS: Laura
PAT GOUGH: Mildred
JAN HOLT: Andrea
NORM MCLEOD: Police Detective

Directed by: Pat Gough
Recording/Post Production by: David Farquhar

Check out the Wikipedia entry on the pigeon drop scam.

And, here’s basically the same scene from The Flim-Flam Man (1967):

And here’s the Jamaican Switch (a slight variation on the Pigeon Drop) from The Sting (1973):

And from Michael Shermer Learns The Art Of Con Games:

Posted by Jesse Willis

LIBRIVOX: The Planet Strappers by Raymond Z. Gallun

September 22, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

LibriVoxIn his 1977 essay introduction to The Best Of Raymond Z. Gallun, entitled Raymond Z. Gallun, The Quiet Revolutionary, John J. Pierce wrote:

“[Gallun] never bothered with self-promotion. He never even tried very hard to get people to pronounce his name right (it rhymes with ‘balloon’ being an old dutch name, so don’t say ‘gallon’). He let his science fiction speak for itself.”

After trying to pronounce it myself I’m still not sure if the narrator of The Planet Strappers (by Raymond Z. Gallun), Richard Kilmer, has it right. It sounds like he pronounces Gallun, “gah-lun” and not “gah-luhn.” Or should it be “gal-uhn” or maybe “guhl-oon”? I can see why Gallun never bothered trying to clear this up. In any case, Kilmer’s reading of this 1961 novel is clean, uninflected and voluminous in volume – a solid straight reading. I’ll have to get back to you on whether this novel speaks to me.

LIBRIVOX - The Planet Strappers by Raymond Z. GallunThe Planet Strappers
By Raymond Z. Gallun; Read by Richard Kilmer
16 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 7 Hours 25 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: September 21, 2010
The Planet Strappers started out as The Bunch, a group of student-astronauts in the back room of a store in Jarviston, Minnesota. They wanted off Earth, and they begged, borrowed and built what they needed to make it. They got what they wanted–a start on the road to the stars–but no one brought up on Earth could have imagined what was waiting for them Out There!

Podcast feed: http://librivox.org/rss/3747

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

[Thanks also to Barry Eads and Jeanie]

Posted by Jesse Willis

Recent Arrivals: Blackstone Audio: Charlie Huston, Alden Bell

September 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Recent Arrivals 

SFFaudio Recent Arrivals

Blackstone AudiobooksAm I the only one who thinks the trailer for The Reapers Are The Angels makes it look like a foreign language film? It’s purportedly written by Alden Bell, but that’s a pseudonym for Joshua Gaylord (which also kind of sounds like a pseudonym). That name change must be for marketing purposes right? In which case, I wonder what my urban fantasy marketing name would be? Maybe Jesse Willis, urban fantasy author, would be asked to become: JAY CROWN. I can picture it now…

A Is For Aerostat, Z Is For Zombie (#1 in the Delinquent Dirigible Series) by Jay Crown

How’s that? The title sounds a little YA, that’d have to be changed. And then maybe I’d be asked to take a wholly female sounding name, in which case I’d be: JANICE LAWS or some such. “Alden”, by the by, is a gender neutral name meaning “old friend.” Charlie Huston likes The Reapers Are The Angels and it’s going to a reviewer who likes Charlie Huston audiobooks. Maybe I’ll ask her to play my little game, giving herself an urban fantasy author name, the next time we speak.

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - The Reapers Are The Angels by Alden BellThe Reapers Are The Angels
By Alden Bell; Read by Tai Sammons
6 CDs – Approx. 6.8 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: August 2010
ISBN: 9781441765994
For twenty-five years, civilization has survived in meager enclaves, guarded against a plague of the dead. Temple wanders this blighted landscape, keeping to herself and keeping her demons inside her heart. She can’t remember a time before the zombies, but she does remember an old man who took her in and the younger brother she cared for until the tragedy that set her off on her personal journey toward redemption. Moving back and forth between the insulted remnants of society and the brutal frontier beyond, Temple must decide where ultimately to make a home and find the salvation she seeks.

And speaking of Charlie Huston…

Here’s book three in the Joe Pitt Casebook series. The first audiobook in the series, Already Dead |READ OUR REVIEW|, was very well received by our reviewer Julie Davis.

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - Half The Blood Of Brooklyn by Charlie HustonHalf The Blood Of Brooklyn (The Joe Pitt Casebooks, Book 3)
By Charlie Huston; Read by Scott Brick
7 CDs – Approx. 8 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: August 2010
ISBN: 1441753206
There’s only so much room on the Island, only so much blood, and Manhattan’s Vampyre Clans aren’t interested in sharing. So when the Vyrus-infected dregs of New York’s outer boroughs start creeping across the bridges, the Clans want to know why. Bad luck for PI Joe Pitt. Joe used to be a Rogue, work off his own dime, pick his own gigs, but tight times and a terminally ill girlfriend pushed him to the renegade Society Clan. Now he has all the cash and blood he needs, but at a steep price. The price tonight is crossing the bridge, finding the Freak Clan, and figuring out what’s driving the savages to scratch at the Society’s door. No need to look far. The answer lies around the corner in Gravesend. From uptown to the boardwalk, war drums are beating. Murderous family feuds and personal grudges are being drawn and brandished, along with the long knives.

This video interview isn’t about the audiobook, but it does make a compelling case for reading a Charlie Huston book:

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Live Free or Die by John Ringo

September 20, 2010 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audiobook - Live Free or Die by John RingoLive Free Or Die
By John Ringo; Read by Mark Boyett
17 Hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: 2010
Themes: / Science Fiction / Military / Politics / Aliens / First contact /

All authors have political opinions. Those opinions reveal themselves in authors’ novels. Most authors reveal those opinions subtly, probably figuring an in-your-face approach will only turn off some readers.

John Ringo is not most authors. In Troy Rising: Live Free or Die, Ringo (and his Mary Sue protagonist, named Tyler Vernon) wear their politics on their sleeves. It is a robust libertarian brand of politics. This is a little refreshing, and a lot distracting. Readers who dislike celebrations of conservative culture and Don’t Tread On Me economics are going to have to work very hard to ignore the constant needling. In particular, “socialist p***ies” are urged to approach this novel with deflector shields set to maximum.

Even plot points fulfill Ringo’s wishes in surprising ways. When aliens drop rocks on our cities, the result is that the surviving electorate skews rural. . .and conservative. This is just the kind of thinking-through-the-implications work that a good speculative fiction author is required to do. Yet, Ringo takes just a tiny bit of, well, satisfaction from the deaths of millions of misguided liberal urbanites. More blatantly self-indulgent is a plot point involving an alien-engineered virus that makes all the blond women in the world soooper horny. No joke.

You can call this space opera; ear candy; action-packed. The prose is breezy and the plot is intelligently constructed. The narration, by Mark Boyett, is a pleasure to listen to. He’s either an enthusiastic conservative, or a liberal with superb acting skills. (Either scenario is plausible.)

The novel divides into three clear sections. The first act describes a first-contact scenario, with aliens installing an interstellar transport gate in our solar system with precious little warning. The resulting transformation of all human civilization into a galactic third-world country is quite plausible. It’s a disturbing reminder of the way colonial powers are viewed by the colonized.

The second act tells of the ascendancy of Tyler Vernon from unemployed everyman to the richest tycoon in human history. He finds the one commodity unique to Earth that aliens value. Here, the novel becomes less plausible—a little silly, really—and worse, the idea is not original, resembling a plot device in Harry Turtledove’s WWII alt history, where gingerroot turns aliens into crackheads. I won’t give away what the substance is in this case; suffice it to say it comes from a region of the world known for its culture of prickly independence, which dovetails with Ringo’s politics with neat precision. A nifty authorial trick, that.

The third act is the longest, and it describes the building the Troy, an excellent Big Dumb Object—a fantastically massive battle station. Even more impressive is a system of mirrors that concentrate sunlight into powerful beams measured in terawatts or even petawatts. These weapons give Earth a fighting chance against the oppressors. The question nags: could humans think up technology that surprises millennia-old civilizations? Very unlikely.

This book brings to mind another tale of lowly humans besting an established galactic order. Poul Anderson’s The High Crusade describes how medieval knights commandeer an alien space ship and, ultimately, overthrow a space empire. That book is more enjoyable because it’s not even remotely serious. Live Free or Die aspires to a more serious level, but ultimately works only if the reader’s sense of fun can withstand the concentrated sunlight of plausibility.

Posted by the Fredösphere

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