Commentary: Where are all the Ted Chiang audiobooks?

June 24, 2011 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Commentary 

SFFaudio Commentary

Ted Chiang (portrait by Arturo Villarrubia)

Ted Chiang, perhaps the greatest living Science Fiction writer, has very little of his excellent fiction (a dozen stories, novellettes and novellas) available in the audio format. That is a bitter, bitter shame. It is my hope this post will help change that.

Lamentably, no Ted Chiang audiobooks have ever been commercially released. There are, however, several podcast sources for readings and the BBC commissioned an unabridged recording of Understand (which has been occasionally rebroadcast).

Below is a chart detailing all of Ted Chiang’s published fiction.

Audio (YES/NO):Title:Original Publication:MP3: – Audio Publisher:Notes:

NoTower Of Babylon – Omni, November 1990 – novelette

NoDivision By ZeroFull Spectrum 3 (1991) – short story


YesUnderstand – Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, August 1991 – BBC Radio 7 – occasionally rebroadcast on BBCR7, read by Rashan Stone, novelette


NoStory Of Your LifeStarlight 2, (1998) – novella


NoThe Evolution Of Human Science (aka Catching Crumbs From The Table) – Nature, June 1, 2000 – short story


NoSeventy-Two LettersVanishing Acts (2000) – novella


YesHell Is The Absence Of GodStarlight 3 (2001) – |MP3| – Podcastle – read by James Trimarco, bad sound quality, novelette


NoLiking What You See: A DocumentaryStories of Your Life and Others (2002) – novelette


YesWhat’s Expected Of Us – Nature, July 5, 2005 – |MP3| – StarShip Sofa – read by Julie Davis, short story


YesThe Merchant And The Alchemist’s Gate – Subterranean Press (2007) – StarShip Sofa – |MP3| – read by J.J. Campanella, novelette


YesExhalationEclipse 2, 2008 – |MP3| or |MP3| – StarShip Sofa / Escape Pod – read by Ray Sizemore, short story


NoThe Lifecycle of Software Objects – Subterranean Press (2010) – novella


Posted by Jesse Willis

New Releases: The Astounding, The Amazing, And The Unknown by Paul Malmont

June 24, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: New Releases 

New Releases

Coming soon…

BRILLIANCE AUDIO - The Astounding, TheAmazing, And The Unknown by Paul MalmontThe Astounding, The Amazing, And The Unknown
By Paul Malmont; Read by Christopher Lane
14 CDs – Approx. 16 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: July 5, 2011
ISBN: 9781455825356
Sample |MP3|
In 1943, when the United States learns that Germany is on the verge of a deadly innovation that could tip the balance of the war, the government turns to an unlikely source for help: the nation’s top science fiction writers. Installed at a covert military lab within the Philadelphia Naval Yard are the most brilliant of these young visionaries. The unruly band is led by Robert Heinlein, the dashing and complicated master of the genre. His “Kamikaze Group,” which includes the ambitious genius Isaac Asimov, is tasked with transforming the wonders of science fiction into science fact and unlocking the secrets to invisibility, death rays, force fields, weather control, and other astounding phenomena — and finding it harder than they ever imagined. When a German spy washes ashore near the abandoned Long Island ruins of a mysterious energy facility, the military begins to fear that the Nazis are a step ahead of Heinlein’s group. Now the oddball team, joined by old friends from the Pulp Era including L. Ron Hubbard (court-martialed for attacking Mexico), must race to catch up. The answers they seek may be locked in the legendary War of Currents, which was fought decades earlier between Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison. As the threat of an imminent Nazi invasion of America grows more and more possible, events are set in motion that just may revolutionize the future — or destroy it — while forcing the writers to challenge the limits of talent, imagination, love, destiny, and even reality itself. Blazing at breathtaking speed from forgotten tunnels deep beneath Manhattan to top-secret battles in the North Pacific, and careening from truth to pulp and back again, The Astounding, The Amazing, And The Unknown is a sweeping, romantic epic — a page-turning rocket ship ride through the history of the future.

Posted by Jesse Willis

LibriVox: The Green Rust by Edgar Wallace

June 24, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Aural Noir, Online Audio 

Aural Noir: Online Audio

LibriVoxDon W. Jenkins, a San Diegan, may not be the ideal narrative match for this 1919 English murder mystery/Science Fiction novel, but he’s competent enough for the price, 100% FREE! The novel itself isn’t going to break any heads open with its sheer awesomeness either – but The Green Rust is a competent reading of a competent early twentieth century murder mystery (that’s also got some SF elements in it). Plus, it’s got some great vocabulary, a fairly compelling mystery at the center of it (who would kill a man on his deathbed?), the occasional dollop of hilarious dialogue (“Drunk or sober he is a man! Drunk or sober he is a man!” and “she’s as dumb as an oyster”) as well as some quaint technology on display (home gas meters run by coins).

LIBRIVOX - The Green Rust by Edgar WallaceThe Green Rust
By Edgar Wallace; Read by Don W. Jenkins
32 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 8 Hours 2 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: May 31, 2011
A millionaire is taken suddenly ill, and sensing his mortality, he asks his attorney to do him one last favor—to find and secretly watch over his missing niece, the daughter of his profligate deceased sister. This niece at the appropriate time would become heir to his millions. However, the millionaire is mysteriously murdered, stabbed to death in his sick bed. Oliva Cresswell, the unsuspecting niece, has been a cashier in a large West End store for five years when she meets a Mr. Beale, a self-described wheat merchant, is attacked in her flat and rescued by this Mr. Beale, is offered a job as his confidential secretary, refuses him, is unexplainably sacked and finds herself in need of his offer. The mysteries multiply and deepen as the story proceeds.

Podcast feed:

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

[Thanks also to Dawn Larsen and Availle]

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of White Cat by Holly Black

June 24, 2011 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

LISTENING LIBRARY - White Cat by Holly BlackWhite Cat: The Curse Workers, Book One
By Holly Black; Read by Jesse Eisenberg
1 |MP3| – Approx. 6 Hours 41 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Listening Library
Published: May 11, 2010
ISBN: 9780307711816
Themes: / Fantasy / Urban Fantasy / Con men / Curses / Magic /

I wake up barefoot, standing on cold slate tiles. Looking dizzily down. I suck in a breath of icy air.

Above me are stars. Below me, the bronze statue of Colonel Wallingford makes me realize I’m seeing the quad from the peak of Smythe Hall, my dorm.

I have no memory of climbing the stairs up to the roof. I don’t even know how to get where I am, which is a problem since I’m going to have to get down, ideally in a way that doesn’t involve dying.


I’d dreamed of a white cat. It leaned over me, inhaling sharply, as if it was going to suck the breath from my lungs, but then it bit out my tongue instead. There was no pain, only a sense of overwhelming, suffocating panic. In the dream, my tongue was a wriggling red thing, mouse-sized and wet, that the cat carried in her mouth. I wanted it back. I sprang up out of the bed and grabbed for her, but she was too lean and too quick. I chased her. The next thing I knew, I was teetering on a slate roof.

A siren wails in the distance, drawing closer. My cheeks hurt from smiling.

Eventually a fireman climbs a ladder to get me down. They put a blanket around me, but by then my teeth are chattering so hard that I can’t answer any of their questions. It’s like the cat bit out my tongue after all.

Born into a family of curse workers, Cassell doesn’t have the magical powers to be a “worker.” Curses come in all shapes and sizes from transforming victims into something else down to emotionally influencing people. All that is needed is the touch of a finger. This makes gloves much more than a fashion accessory since they are a necessary item of protection.

Curse work is illegal so curse workers are all either part of the powerful crime families, con workers, or exist with their secret on the edges of society. Cassell’s family owes allegiance to a powerful crime family and working cons is as normal as breathing. In fact, working the con is the thing that makes up for not being a worker and Cassell eyes the world from this vantage point, which makes him a solitary figure with few friends.

Cassell has a dark secret, a problem with sleepwalking, and a family who specializes in running cons. He also lost the love of his life, Lila, long ago. However, he put that all behind him and is concentrating on life in boarding school and building a normal life, along with keeping book on the side. (Hey, a guy has to have a little spending money, right?) So when a white cat begins following him everywhere, terrifying dreams bring Lila back into his waking thoughts, and those dark secrets begin surfacing again, Cassell begins to suspect that he is a pawn in a complicated con game.

Can he out-con the pros and solve his problems? Well, of course he can or what would be the point of reading the book? The fascination is with watching Cassell have to admit that he needs help from others, seeing his longing for family ties even as he fears that he may have been betrayed by them,

Holly Black has a fully realized alternate world where the presence of curse working and magic define much more than Cassell’s personal problems. There is a slight but interesting subplot about an organization that is working for “worker’s rights.” The government has begun pushing a testing program, urging workers to come forward and be identified. Family loyalty along with the inner workings of crime families are also interesting embellishments to the plot. The magical abilities described are fascinating, as is the concept of “blow back” which besets anyone who works a curse. Nothing is done with impunity so you’d better be darned sure you want to curse someone because you will suffer some sort of severe reaction in turn.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the book is that Cassell is an unreliable narrator. What is more, he knows he is an unreliable narrator as he is afraid that he is too influenced by dreams or that his memory has been worked. Everyone around him is fairly unreliable as well since Cassell is never sure when someone is working a con or being natural. Although some major plot twists are fairly well telegraphed ahead of time, this hardly matters because we are so concerned with the fact that Cassell may be working a con we don’t see or that he is being conned himself.

The story is narrated by Jesse Eisenberg, who is probably best known for portraying the awkward college student in Zombieland or the equally awkward Mark Zuckerberg in Social Network. His trademark delivery works perfectly as the story is told by Cassell who is equally as awkward as either of those movie characters. Furthermore, Eisenberg alters his voice slightly but effectively to portray different characters: a fortune teller, Cassell’s mother, his roommate Sam, and the crime boss all get slightly different intonations which perfectly convey character. I would have liked the book anyway as a straight read, but with Eisenberg’s narration I bought it hook, line, and sinker. Just like an average mark, in fact.

It is called urban fantasy but didn’t really feel that way to me. It is fantasy because of the curse working element but other than that there are precious few fantastic elements. Likewise, it is labeled YA, but aside from the age of the narrator and some elements like having to attend classes, it didn’t feel like something written for younger readers.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. What can I say? I like con stories. I like the universe Holly Black created. Jesse Eisenberg’s narration pulled me into the story so I stayed there long enough to care about a boarding school student with an interesting set of problems. I also liked the fact that the story arc was concluded in this book except for one element which obviously serves as a bridge to the second book of the series.

It’s just plain fun all round and moves at a fast, addictive pace. Recommended.

Posted by Julie D.

BBCR4X: Bradbury 13

June 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

BBC Radio 4 ExtraCoolness! Mike McDonough, the legendary producer of the famous BRADBURY 13 audio drama series, writes in to say:


A good friend of mine pointed me to your website. I’m glad to see there are others in the world like me, who LOVE audio, and think it is a perfect medium for telling stories. I’ve been fascinated with the power of audio since I was a kid growing up in Los Angeles.

I’m glad you liked “A Sound Of Thunder“. That’s one of my favorite Ray Bradbury stories, and certainly one of the most successful of the thirteen audio adaptations that I did in the series. Bradbury’s writing is so visual sometimes, it was just a natural for audio. By the way, the series is currently being broadcast on the BBC in England. Here is a link to their blog about the shows I did many years ago! The series is also lately available for download on iTunes for anyone who might be interested.

Keep up the good work on your website. It seems very well-done and comprehensive.

All My Best,

Mike McDonough

Indeed, check out the BBC Radio 4 Extra blog post that has some vintage photographs of the McDonough actually recording the programme! It makes a great compliment to Radio Drama Revival’s excellent interview with McDonough. And, of course, BBCR4X is presenting all 13 episodes weekly right now! Blackstone Audio has released the collection on CD, it is available through iTunes and has it too!

Blackstone Audio - Bradbury Thirteen

Posted by Jesse Willis

Audioboook Sync: SIXTEEN FREE Young Adult AUDIOBOOKS: (2 per week over the summer)

June 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Overdrive Media Console is offering “FREE audiobook downloads of Young Adult audiobooks and Summer Reading Classics this summer! Watch for a new pair of audiobooks each week from 6/23/11 – 8/17/11.” That’s 16 FREE audiobooks. Unfortunately, like last summer, the files are not straightforward right-click downloads. The good news is that the files themselves are in the MP3 format and don’t expire (even though the offer does).

First, you will have to instal a piece of software called “Overdrive Media Console” and of course you must “take a moment” to read the 2000 word EULA (and presumably have finished law school). Next you’ll need to |CLICK HERE| to get the first audiobook (and follow the instructions). That will get the first audiobook downloading. To get the second audiobook you’ll need to |CLICK HERE| and do the same. There is a query regarding your country of residence. Ignore it (unless you want to risk not getting your audiobook).

Be sure to take careful note where the files are set to download to. I sent mine to a custom folder on my desktop.

Here is the first pair, available between June 23 and June 29:

SCHOLASTIC AUDIO - Shiver by Maggie StiefvaterShiver
By Maggie Stiefvater; Read by Jenna Lamia and David Ledoux
MP3 Download – Approx. 10.75 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Scholastic Audio Books
Published: 2009
ISBN: 0545165067
For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf–her wolf–is a chilling presence she can’t seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human . . . until the cold makes him shift back again.
Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It’s her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human–or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever

BBC RADIO 3 - William Shakespeare's Romeo & JulietRomeo & Juliet
By William Shakespeare; Performed by by Douglas Henshall, Sophie Dahl, Susannah York, and a Full Cast
MP3 Download – Approx. 3 Hours [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: AudioGO / BBC Radio
Published: 1999
ISBN: 9780563553441
Douglas Henshall, Sophie Dahl and Susannah York star in Shakespeare’s passionate story of doomed love. BBC Radio has a unique heritage when it comes to Shakespeare. Since 1923, when the newly formed company broadcast its first full-length play, generations of actors and producers have honed and perfected the craft of making Shakespeare to be heard. With the intimacy of radio the full beauty and meaning of some of the most lyrical lines ever written can be truly heard: tenderness and passion, betrayal and bigotry are brilliantly evoked as the tale comes to its tragic conclusion. The play is introduced by Richard Eyre, former Director of the Royal National Theatre, and the accompanying booklet includes a scene-by-scene synopsis, full character analysis, brief biographies of the leading actors and of Shakespeare himself, as well as an essay from the producer on their interpretation of the play. Revitalised, original and comprehensive – this is Shakespeare for the new millennium.

Future audiobooks released through the same method:

Available June 30 – July 6:
Little Brother by Cory Doctorow |READ OUR REVIEW|
The Trial by Franz Kafka

Available July 7 – July 13:
Where The Streets Had A Name by Randa Abdel-Fattah
A Passage To India by E.M. Forster

Available July 14 – July 20:
The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney
Beowulf by Francis B. Gummere [Trans.]

Available July 21 – July 27:
Chanda’s Secrets by Allan Stratton
Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

Available July 28 – August 3:
Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari
Rescue: Stories of Survival From Land and Sea by Dorcas S. Miller [Ed.]

Available August 4 – August 10:
Immortal by Gillian Shields
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Available August 11 – August 17:
Storm Runners by Roland Smith
The Cay by Theodore Taylor

Posted by Jesse Willis

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