Review of Song Bird from RRCA

July 30, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audio Drama - Song BirdSong Bird
Starring Kelli O’Hara, Shirley Jones, and Ed Asner
2 CDs – 2 Hours – [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Radio Repertory Company of America
Published: 2011
Themes: / Audio Drama / Science Fiction / Music / Precognition / Private Investigator /

I know the Radio Repertory Company of America best for the Anne Manx series. I’m a fan of those entertaining comic book dramas (|SFFaudio Review|) so I’m always thrilled when they send me something.

Before they get back to Manx, Angelo Panetta and crew offer Song Bird, a standalone science fiction audio drama. The story opens with a singer named Maureen Barnett (Kelli O’Hara) singing in an out of the way lounge. This is odd because she’s famous and should be singing in front of huge crowds. Amelia Storm (Shirley Jones) is also a singer and she’s got something to give Maureen – the ability to see the future. The gift immediately becomes a burden as Maureen sees disturbing things about her teenage daughter. The story then shifts into a higher gear when the things that worry Maureen actually take place and she’s forced to hire a private investigator to help her find her daughter.

After listening to this production, and so many other audio dramas over the years, I continue to be impressed by RRCA. The quality of the actors is one of the things that set RRCA’s productions apart. The actors here are excellent. Ed Asner plays a retired police officer turned private investigator, and is hilarious. Asner and Shirley Jones together are a delight and I wanted to hear more of them when it was over. First rate performances all around.

The second mark of an RRCA production is the quality of the sound. Music plays a large role here, and Kelli O’Hara and Shirley Jones sound great. Great care is taken with sound effects and background music. I urge you to grab a nice pair of headphones and give this production your full attention! It’s well worth your time. Enjoy!

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Recent Arrivals from Penguin Audio

July 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Recent Arrivals 

SFFaudio Recent Arrivals

Fantasy Audiobook - Ghost Story by Jim ButcherGhost Story
By Jim Butcher; Read by John Glover
15 CDs – 18 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Published: 2011

The eagerly awaited new novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling Dresden Files series.

When we last left the mighty wizard detective Harry Dresden, he wasn’t doing well. In fact, he had been murdered by an unknown assassin.

But being dead doesn’t stop him when his friends are in danger. Except now he has nobody, and no magic to help him. And there are also several dark spirits roaming the Chicago shadows who owe Harry some payback of their own.

To save his friends-and his own soul-Harry will have to pull off the ultimate trick without any magic…
 
 
Fantasy Audiobook - The Magician King by Lev GrossmanThe Magician King
By Lev Grossman; Read by Mark Bramhall
13 CDs – 16 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Published: 2011

Return to Fillory in the riveting sequel to The New York Times bestseller and literary phenomenon of 2009–The Magicians.

The Magicians was praised as a triumph by readers and critics of both mainstream and fantasy literature. Now Grossman takes us back to Fillory, where the Brakebills graduates have fled the sorrows of the mundane world, only to face terrifying new challenges.

Quentin and his friends are now the kings and queens of Fillory, but the days and nights of royal luxury are starting to pall. After a morning hunt takes a sinister turn, Quentin and his old friend Julia charter a magical sailing ship and set out on an errand to the wild outer reaches of their kingdom. Their pleasure cruise becomes an adventure when the two are unceremoniously dumped back into the last place Quentin ever wants to see: his parent’s house in Chesterton, Massachusetts. And only the black, twisted magic that Julia learned on the streets can save them.

The Magician King is a grand voyage into the dark, glittering heart of magic, an epic quest for the Harry Potter generation. It also introduces a powerful new voice, that of Julia, whose angry genius is thrilling. Once again Grossman proves that he is the modern heir to C.S. Lewis, and the cutting edge of literary fantasy.
 

New Releases: The Great Courses (The Teaching Company) Summer 2011 Catalogue

July 29, 2011 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: New Releases 

New Releases

The Teaching CompanyAs promised, I’ve got a complete scan of the latest Teaching Company catalogue – and I did it before the prices expire! Strangely this catalogue comes not from a random discard, but instead from my mom, who had it come in her mail. She’d never heard The Teaching Company, or this catalogue of “The Great Courses” and she has no idea how she got on their mailing list!

It isn’t fair. I want to be on that list!

Here’s the Summer 2011 catalogue of The Great Courses |PDF|

And as usual it’s just lousy with educational goodness. Among the many lecture series that struck me as cool sounding were:

How To Become A Superstar Student, 2nd Edition (Page 11)
The Art Of Teaching: Best Practices From A Master Educator (Page 21)
Games People Play: Game Theory In Life, Business and Beyond (Page 31)
The Wisdom Of History (Page 37)
Books That Made History: Books That Can Change Your Life (Page 39)
The World Was Never The Same: Events That Changed History (Page 41)
Classical Mythology (Page 51)

Posted by Jesse Willis

The Black Stone by Robert E. Howard

July 29, 2011 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Robert E. Howard's The Black Stone - art by Gene Day

The Black Stone is one of Robert E. Howard’s Cthulhu Mythos stories. I happen to think it’s is one of his best – which is saying something because Robert E. Howard was an absolutely terrific Horror writer. I probably first encountered it as an adaption, it was a backup story written by Roy Thomas and illustrated by Gene Day in the March 1982 issue of Savage Sword Of Conan (#74). That was actually quite a spectacular issue of the magazine and the The Black Stone, which only took up ten pages, was wonderful. FNH has posted a two part reading of the story to his Cthulhu podcast and it’s well read too:

Cthulhu PodcastThe Black Stone
By Robert E. Howard; Read by FNH
2 MP3 Files – Approx. 41 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: Cthulhu Podcast
Podcast: July 2011
|ETEXT|
A biliophile, with extensive knowledge of history, anthropology and ancient religion, reads of a forgotten geological feature in the mountains of Hungary. He decides to take his vacation there, mid-summer, and encounters legend, history and a terrible manifestation from an unspeakably distant epoch. First published in the November 1931 issue of Weird Tales.

Part 1 |MP3| Part 2 |MP3|

Podcast feed:

http://feeds2.feedburner.com/cthulhupodcast

Here’s another reading, from a cool podcast I’ve just discovered. I expect to be listening to a lot more episodes from it:

The Black Stone by Robert E. HowardThe Black Stone
By Robert E. Howard; Read by Jim Moon
1 |MP3| – Approx. 56 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: Hypnobobs
Podcast: January 23, 2011
A biliophile, with extensive knowledge of history, anthropology and ancient religion, reads of a forgotten geological feature in the mountains of Hungary. He decides to take his vacation there, mid-summer, and encounters legend, history and a terrible manifestation from an unspeakably distant epoch. First published in the November 1931 issue of Weird Tales.

Podcast feed: http://hypnogoria.podomatic.com/rss2.xml

The Black Stone is also available in print. The Ballantine Del Rey collection titled The Horror Stories Of Robert E. Howard (ISBN: 0345490207) was released as an audiobook edition available from Tantor Media (read by Robertson Dean):

Horror Audiobook - The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard by Robert E. HowardThe Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard
By Robert E. Howard; Read by Robertson Dean
2 MP3-CDs – Approx. 24 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Audiobooks
Published: 2010
ISBN:
Sample |MP3|

And of course there have been several other talented artistic interpretations of The Black Stone, here’s just a few:

The Black Stone - illustrated by Greg Staples

The Black Stone - illustrated by Lee Brown Coye (from Sleep No More)

Wolfshead cover illustration by Paul Lehr

Wolfshead cover illustration by Paul Lehr

Wolfshead cover illustration by Paul Lehr

Wolfshead cover illustration by Paul Lehr


The Black Stone - art by Jim & Ruth Keegan

The Black Stone - art by Jim & Ruth Keegan


Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #118 – READALONG: Upon The Dull Earth by Philip K. Dick

July 25, 2011 by · 16 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #118 – Scott, Jesse and Tamahome talk about Philip K. Dick’s wonderful novelette Upon The Dull Earth (available in Blackstone Audio’s The Selected Stories Of Philip K. Dick Volume 2)

Talked about on today’s show:
Beyond Fantasy Fiction, the prolific Philip K. Dick, Galaxy Magazine, H.L. Gold, is Upon The Dull Earth Fantasy or Science Fiction, suburban romance?, rural romance, Jesse loves the setting, cedars, angels, The Odyssey, On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers, Jesse’s terrible Philip K. Dick impersonation, a wooden faucet?, a one way ladder to another plane, using your coffin as a cocoon, “Rick, I cut myself.”, Rick is responsible for her death, is Rick in hell?, Silvia is a sick chick, shortly after Silvia’s incineration, blood from a New Jersey abattoir, Upon The Dull Earth would be perfect for the A Good Story Is Hard To Find podcast, God has moved on up, HE is capitalized, she’s Fantasy, he’s Science Fiction, she’s elf-like, he’s machine-like, iron and spirits don’t mix, ridding one’s self of civilization, Inferno by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle |READ OUR REVIEW|, uisge beatha mean “the water of life” (or whisky), is Silvia depressed?, YA, valkyries, insects, The Hanging Man had insects too, witch vs. saint, remember Prometheus and the fire?, ripples from the event, kraals of white skinned young women, is this all going on in Rick’s head, Rick picks up a hitchhiker to use him as a guinea pig, “you’re crowding me man”, going into the underworld to get back your dead girlfriend, when someone dies you mourn your loss, Plato (and Aristophanes’) story about the mythological division of male from female (The Symposium), “we were meant to be together”, “you complete me” and similar cliches, what happens at the end?, Fair Game by Philip K. Dick, Philip K. Dick stories often have a roadside cafe scene and a gas station scene, “like the doves in a John Woo movie”, where does the title of Upon The Dull Earth come from?, she was merely playing at death, disturbed spirits thirsty for blood, the natural of order of things has been violated, William Shakespeare’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Act 4, Scene 2, the character name Sylvia comes from the play, but sylvan means “of the wood”, is she a fairy?, HBO’s True Blood, Icarus, the Wikipedia entry for Upon The Dull Earth, the many mentions of clay, Wonder Woman came from clay, Batman: False Faces by Brian K. Vaughn, J. Michael Straczynski, the Golem, Ted Chiang’s Seventy-Two Letters, The Adventures Of Cavalier And Clay by Michael Chabon, capricious (adj.) Given to sudden and unaccountable changes of mood or behavior, religion, Steven H Silver’s review of Seventy-Two Letters (and Stories Of Your Life And Other Stories), FREE TED CHIANG!, Saint Bernadette, Philip K. Dick really cares about the way the story is told, we never see inside a character’s mind, the authorial view, is Dick popular in for movies for this reason?, it’s grotesque!, she filled the Silex, “We’re all going to have wings!”, “We won’t be worms anymore”, Silvia’s looking for an abusive relationship, Blackstone Audio, the audiobook, Upon The Dull Earth is best read aloud, Tama didn’t know how fantastical Dick was, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, its a Noir Horror Science Fiction Fantasy story, anime, Berserk, Project A-Ko, Princess Mononoke, I only understand Japanese movies made by Akira Kurosawa, Rashomon, The Seven Samurai, “I can barely understand the people wearing a Storm Trooper costumes”, Jesse needs some accessible anime, Spirited Away, what are the background assumptions in anime, Cowboy Beebop intro, Luke’s review of Solaris on SFBRP, Erik S. Rabkin, Just Imagine is a crazy musical with plenty of background assumptions (like prohibition), Hey Want To Watch A Movie? podcast, is there an MST3K podcast?, Tam was thinking of the non-podcast Rifftrax.com, readalong vs. watchalong, The Thing, The Thing From Another World, The Thing (2011), Captain America: The First Avenger, The Amazing Spider-Man, comic books vs. Hollywood, The Avengers will be written and directed by Joss Whedon, swastikas are banned in Germany, it’s a case of it’s time to end the podcast.

Upon The Dull Earth by Philip K. Dick - BEYOND FANTASY FICTION #9 (November 1954) illustrations by Rene Vidmer

Upon The Dull Earth by Philip K. Dick - BEYOND FANTASY FICTION #9 (November 1954) illustrations by Rene Vidmer

Upon The Dull Earth by Philip K. Dick - BEYOND FANTASY FICTION #9 (November 1954) illustrations by Rene Vidmer

Upon The Dull Earth by Philip K. Dick - BEYOND FANTASY FICTION #9 (November 1954) illustrations by Rene Vidmer

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Red Glove by Holly Black

July 23, 2011 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Fantasy Audiobook - Red Glove by Holly BlackRed Glove: The Curse Workers, Book 2
By Holly Black; Read by Jesse Eisenberg
7 Hours, 5 Minutes – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Listening Library
Published: 2011
Themes: / Fantasy / Urban Fantasy / Con men / Curses / Magic / Boarding school /

A review by Julie D.

Red Glove is the second book in Holly Black’s Curse Workers series, the first of which was White Cat. |SFFaudio Review|

As the book begins, we get more of a feel for the insecure world in which Cassel grew up. It is the end of summer vacation and he’s living with his mother in Atlantic City, drifting from hotel to hotel, helping her con a series of wealthy gentleman friends for support. It is an anxiety-filled existence, with the potential for exploding violence at any moment.

When his senior year at boarding school begins, Cassel is glad to reenter the familiar environment. That is derailed when Lila, the girl he loves but must avoid, begins school there as well. Inevitably, it seems, she becomes one of his circle of friends and the angst of seeing the girl he cannot have is constantly on his mind.

Just a few days into the school year, Cassel’s oldest brother is murdered and the Feds try to recruit him to help solve that case and investigate a possibly related string of unsolved murders. The only clue is video footage of a woman wearing red gloves but whose face cannot be seen. They also want Cassel to become an informant on the Zacharov crime family, with which his own family has long been aligned. Complicating matters, the Zacharov’s also want to recruit Cassel to use his transformation powers on their behalf. As if that weren’t pressure enough, the state government is heightening efforts to test everyone to identify curse workers.

As Cassel attempts to untangle the web of lies in which he finds himself, he must resort to a big con to both discover the truth and solve his problems about who he will work with. Naturally this is great fun and there are many plot twists and cliff-hangers along the way in the story which make it somewhat addictive listening. Only the final twist of the book was fairly predictable. However, it is fairly unimportant to the book overall as it serves to act as the bridge to carry the reader forward into the next book of the series.

Red Glove conveys more of the feel of Cassel’s age since much of the action takes place around classes or with school pals. However, as in White Cat, the key issues are still those of trust, betrayal, friendship, identity, truth, and true love, all on a higher level than the ordinary book set among this age group.

As in the first book, Cassel walks a tightrope between right and wrong in his world of gray ethics. However, the fact that he now has some close friends allows us to see him opening up to others and extending himself in their time of need. He will use his con skills when needed but is taking increasing chances by telling the truth to those around him. This allows for personal growth that makes his choices harder much of the time, but which we can see slowly building to a way out of the crime-filled, worker world he has always inhabited.

Black does us the great favor of not worrying much about back story or lengthy flashbacks. She will add a sentence or two when the stories overlap to be sure the reader is oriented and then moves on. This kept the story moving at a fairly brisk pace, although it did bog down a bit in the middle when Cassel goes hunting for who set up a particular murder victim.

As before, Jesse Eisenberg narrated the book with great skill, conveying Cassel’s emotions as the awkward high school senior longing for normalcy. Usually he would simply alter his voice a bit to portray other characters but occasionally would use accents to great effect, as in his portrayal of the head of the Zacharov family.

Red Glove is not as fresh and sparkling as White Cat, but it is a worthy successor. I definitely enjoyed it and am considering getting the print version for rereading. Recommended.

Posted by Julie D.

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