Recent Arrvials: William Browning Spencer, Harry Dolan, PLUS 10 MORE

July 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Recent Arrivals 

SFFaudio Recent Arrivals

Mentioned on the last SFFaudio Podcast…

ELOQUENT VOICE - Downloading Midnight And Other Stories by William Browning SpencerDownloading Midnight And Other Stories
By William Browning Spencer; Read by William Coon
Download – Approx. 2 Hours 31 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Eloquent Voice
Published: June 30, 2011
ISBN: 9780983089858
Fifteen years ago, when an interviewer for The Austin American-Statesman asked what it takes to be a writer, William Browning Spencer said, ‘You have to be willing to ruin the rest of your life.’ Mr. Spencer notes that the willingness is more important than the actual result, and that his life is not in ruins. But he does believe that risk-taking is part of the process, not only for the author but for his characters. This is certainly the case for the characters in this collection of stories. There are people in peril here (a therapist, a wife and daughter, a friend) and there are those who would save them by venturing into the unknown. In ‘The Halfway House At The Heart Of Darkness’ a virtual reality addictions counselor is on the run with his zoned-out client, pursued by the relentless architects of a seductive virtual game called Apes and Angels. In ‘The Oddskeeper’s Daughter’ a marriage made in a heaven of parallel worlds is tested by impossible luck, both good and bad. In ‘Downloading Midnight’ a computer technician must make a dangerous journey into virtual reality in an attempt to save his colleague and prevent the entire web from collapsing. Join us for a mind-bending tour through the imagination of William Browning Spencer.

PENGUIN AUDIO - Very Bad Men by Harry DolanVery Bad Men
By Harry Dolan; Read Erik Davies
12 CDs – Approx. 15.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Published: July 7, 2011
ISBN: 9780142429372
David Loogan returns! Loogan is living in Ann Arbor with Detective Elizabeth Waishkey and her daughter, Sarah. He’s settled into a quiet routine as editor of the mystery magazine Gray Streets-until one day he finds a manuscript outside his door. It begins: “I killed Henry Kormoran.” Anthony Lark has a list of names-Terry Dawtrey, Sutton Bell, Henry Kormoran. To his eyes, the names glow red on the page. They move. They breathe. The people on the list have little in common except that seventeen years ago they were involved in a notorious robbery. And now Anthony Lark is hunting them down, and he won’t stop until every one of them is dead.

INFINIVOX - The Year's Top Ten Tales Of Science Fiction - Volume 3 edited by Allan Kaster The Year’s Top Ten Tales Of Science Fiction – Volume 3
Edited by Allan Kaster; Read by Tom Dheere, Nichola Barber, Kate Baker and Nathan Lowell
8 CDs – Approx. 8.25 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Infinivox
Published: July 29, 2011
ISBN: 97818846129

Table of Contents:
Under The Moon Of Venus by Damien Broderick
The Shipmaker by Alliette de Bodard
Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain by Yoon Ha Lee
Re-Crossing The Styx by Ian R. MacLeod
Eight Miles by Sean McMullen
Elegy For A Young Elk by Hannu Rajaniemi
Alone by Robert Reed
The Emperor Of Mars by Allen M. Steele
A letter from the Emperor by Steve Rasnic Tem
The Things by Peter Watts

Here’s the back cover:

INFINIVOX - The Year's Top Ten Tales Of Science Fiction - Volume 3 - BACK COVER

Posted by Jesse Willis

The A-Men by John Trevillian

July 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

The A-Men by John TrevillianAuthor John Trevillian writes in to point out that his novel The A-Men is available as an unabridged podcast reading. Sez Trevillian:

“This is a full and unabridged audio podcast recording of the science fiction novel The A-Men by John Trevillian. Mixing dystopian future, cyberpunk and urban noir, join The Nowhereman, Sister Midnight, Pure, D’Alessandro and the 23rdxenturyboy as they fight for their lives in a dark and dangerous metropolis on the eve of its destruction.”

The sequel, The A-Men Return, is also available as both a paperbook and an ebook.

Podcast feed:

http://trevillian.libsyn.com/

Posted by Jesse Willis

TVO: Saturday Night at the Movies: The Pulp Novel: Walter B. Gibson (writer of The Shadow)

July 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

SFFaudio News

Here’s a wonderful vintage 25 minute interview with Walter B. Gibson from TV Ontario’s famous Saturday Night At The Movies. The interviewer is Elwy Yost:
[via philsp.com]

Posted by Jesse Willis

Commentary: The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

July 20, 2011 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Commentary 

The Raven

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe – |MP3| (read by Anne Cheng)

ONCE upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“ ’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
Only this and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
“ ’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;
This it is and nothing more.”

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—
Darkness there and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore!”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping something louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
Let my heart be still a moment, and this mystery explore;—
’Tis the wind and nothing more.”

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he,
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as “Nevermore.”

But the Raven, sitting lonely on that placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered; not a feather then he fluttered—
Till I scarcely more than muttered: “Other friends have flown before—
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.”
Then the bird said, “Nevermore.”

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of ‘Never—nevermore.’ ”

But the Raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate, yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted—nevermore

Upon The Bust Of Pallas - Edouard Manet

Edmund C. Steadman, in the introduction to Gustave Doré’s 1884 illustrated edition of The Raven, argues that while The Raven may not be Edgar Allan Poe’s best work that it is certainty “his representative poem” in part because it deals with his major theme: “the irretrievable loss of an idolized and beautiful woman.” And to my ears it certainly is a “treasure of mankind.” But, because of its length and accessibility, I think it is capable of being appreciated by even the roughest of barbarian hearts.

And why is that?

I’d suggest that the supernatural element, or the ambiguity of such, helps a lot. Ghosts, gods and demons are easy entry points.

Think of it as a more palatable forerunner to paranormal romance. Perhaps this kind of literature is best called “Dark Romanticism.”

From Wikipedia:

Dark Romanticism (often conflated with Gothicism or called American Romanticism) is a literary subgenre. It has been suggested that Dark Romantics present individuals as prone to sin and self-destruction, not as inherently possessing divinity and wisdom. G.R. Thompson describes this disagreement, stating “the Dark Romantics adapted images of anthropomorphized evil in the form of Satan, devils, ghosts, werewolves, vampires, and ghouls.” For these Dark Romantics, the natural world is dark, decaying, and mysterious; when it does reveal truth to man, its revelations are evil and hellish.

Now dark romanticism may just sound like a more literary description of paranormal romance, minus the mention of a myriad of tattoos, but its authors tackled tough subjects like the pointlessness of a loveless existence in a world without an afterlife. In a way that’s an inversion of paranormal romance.

So on that happy note, and bearing in mind the generally accepted saw that “Life is stranger than fiction”, my question for your barbarian heart is slightly different:

Is real life more horrific than fiction?

Poe’s answer in The Raven, I think, is that it is and by a wide margin.

I’m fairly confident that a wholly naturalistic interpretation of why The Raven quoth “nevermore” can be found in the lines (62-65):

“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master, whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
Till the dirges of his Hope the melancholy burden bore

And if it is true that the titular raven is not supernaturally prophetic, and its speech no more than mere mimicry, is the message it brings to the unnamed narrator at all lessened by a naturalistic interpretation?

I thought not.

Plutonian Shore - GUSTAVE DORÉ

A Stately Raven Of The Saintly Days Of  Yore - GUSTAVE DORÉ

Upon The Bust Of Pallas  - GUSTAVE DORÉ

Shall Be Lifted Nevermore - GUSTAVE DORÉ

Classics Illustrated biography of Edgar Allan Poe

[via LibriVox and Gutenberg.org]

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #117

July 18, 2011 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #117 – Scott, Jesse and Tamahome talk about audiobooks, the recent arrivals and the new releases.

Talked about on today’s show:
We have some genuine Science Fiction!, The Year’s Top Ten Tales Of Science Fiction Vol. 3 edited by Alan Kaster, Damien Broderick, Robert Reed, Steve Rasnic Tem, Ian R. Macleod, Luke Burrage, The Mars Phoenix has Science Fiction (2008), John W. Cambell, The Things by Peter Watts, 8 Miles should be title 12.1 Kilometers, the metric system can’t be sold politically in the U.S.A., florescent lightbulbs are unamerican, Corner Gas, Larry Niven, Harvest Of Stars by Poul Anderson, totalitarianism, Jerry Pournelle, The Boat Of A Million Years by Poul Anderson, immortality, utopia, Blackstone Audio, the French meter stick (is actually made of platinum and iridium not silver), Charles Stross, Free Apocalypse Al, Where are all the Ted Chiang audiobooks?, Steal Across The Sky by , The Astounding, The Amazing, And The Unknown by Paul Malmont, Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, L. Ron Hubbard, The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril, Lester Dent, Doc Savage, H.P. Lovecraft, remixing pulp era authors with pulp era stories, Edgar Allan Poe, the boring cover of The Astounding, The Amazing, And The Unknown, Shadow On The Sun by Richard Matheson (a western that’s also supernatural horror), I Am Legend, Gatherer Of Clouds by Sean Russell, Vancouver Island, Dragon’s Time by Anne McCaffrey and Todd McCaffrey, Brian Herbert, Citadel Of The Lost by Tracy Hickman, is Harriest Klausner a robot?, Phil Gigante, SFSignal.com’s podcast interview with Tracy Hickman, Patrick Hester, Titus Awakes by Maeve Gilmore, Mervyn Peake, Simon Vance’s YouTube videos, Gormenghast (TV series), The Hitch-hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, grotesque, fantasy with no magic and no intelligent species other than humans, “a fantasy of manners”, “a comedy of manners”, metaphors are not spoilers, The Iron Druid Chronicles: Hammered by Kevin Hearne, viking vampires, “someone give that dog a bacon latte”, Very Bad Men by Harry Dolan, Stories Of Your Life And Other Stories by Ted Chiang, Tower Of Babylon, Story Of Your Life, Hell Is The Absence Of God, The Prophecy, Christopher Walken, Viggo Mortensen, Elias Koteas, Combat Hospital (kind of a dramatic remake of MASH), Keanu Reeves, Blair Butler, comics, Northlanders Vol. 5: Metal And Other Stories, non-vampiric vikings, Brian Wood, Blade Vs. The Avengers, Marvel Zombies, Iron Man has a blonde twin brother, The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman, George R.R. Martin, Dust by Joan Frances Turner |READ OUR REVIEW|, Rule 34 by Charles Stross, A Colder War, Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross |READ OUR REVIEW|, Friday by Robert A. Heinlein, interstellar sex, I Will Fear No Evil by Robert A. Heinlein, the meaning of “Rule 34”, “Space Porn – that’s one sexy nebula”, Luke Burrage’s review of Halting State, Choose Your Own Adventure, “turn to page 61 for the acidic death bath”, Infocom, Lesiure Suit Larry, Heaven’s Shadow by David S. Goyer, William Coon, Resume With Monsters by William Browning Spencer, “just added” vs. “new releases” on Audible.com, Steven Gould audiobooks, Vortex by Robert Charles Wilson, iambik audio, Open Your Eyes by Paul Jessup, Flashback by Dan Simmons, a brand new UNABRIDGED release of Neuromancer by William Gibson, Penguin Audio, American Gods by Neil Gaiman (multi-narrator), George Guidall’s reading of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods |READ OUR REVIEW|, American Gods as a TV series, Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman |READ OUR REVIEW|, Odd And The Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman |READ OUR REVIEW| (even though it is too expensive), Deathworld by Harry Harrison is available on LibriVox narrated by Gregg Margarite, The City And The City by China Meiville, Embassytown, Hexed by Alan Steele, A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin, NPR’s On Point podcast interview with George R.R. Martin, Sandkings, Nighflyers, A Song For Lya, Dreamsongs, Roy Dotrice, drones (unmanned aerial vehicles), Forever Peace by Joe Haldeman will be the subject for an upcoming podcast readalong, Upon The Dull Earth by Philip K. Dick will be the next SFFaudio readalong, what contest should we hold to give away The Selected Stories Of Philip K. Dick Volume 1 (and 2)?, rural fantasy, A Good Story Is Hard To Find podcast #009 The Mystery Of Grace by Charles de Lint, The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth.

Astounding, Amazing and Unknown (SFF magazines)

The Astounding, TheAmazing, And The Unknown by Paul Malmont (with photoshopped cover art)

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Venus by Ben Bova

July 16, 2011 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Science fiction Audiobook - Venus by Ben BovaVenus (The Grand Tour Series)
By Ben Bova; Read by Stefan Rudnicki
10 CDs – Approx. 11.7 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: February 2011
ISBN: 9781441775726
Themes: / Science Fiction / Hard SF / Near future / Space travel / Planets /

The surface of Venus is the most hellish place in the solar system, its ground hot enough to melt aluminum, its air pressure high enough to crush spacecraft landers like tin cans, its atmosphere a choking mix of poisonous gases. This is where the frail young Van Humphries must go—or die trying. Years before, Van’s older brother perished in the first attempt to land a man on Venus. Van’s father has always hated him for being the one to survive. Now, his father is offering a ten-billion-dollar prize to the first person who lands on Venus and returns his oldest son’s remains. To everyone’s surprise, Van takes up the offer. But what Van Humphries will find on Venus will change everything—our understanding of Venus, of global warming on Earth, and his knowledge of who he is.

Venus by Ben Bova was first released on audio in abridged format in 2002. I reviewed in it 2004, and from what I wrote there I liked it just fine. This unabridged version (no surprise) was a different and better experience.

I am a fan of Ben Bova’s didactic Grand Tour novels. I like how I come away from each of these novels with a better understanding of how space travel works at our current level of knowledge. I also like how Bova uses what we know about the planets before he starts speculating.

In Venus, eccentric billionaire Martin Humphries summons his son, Van Humpries, to the moon. Prior to the story, Martin’s oldest son Alex had crashed on Venus and was presumed dead. Martin tells Van that he’s offering $10 billion to the person who can retrieve Alex’s remains and that he’s paying for it by cutting Van off financially. Van surprises his father by taking up the challenge himself. There is one other taker, so two teams vie for the prize. Two ships, separately designed and built to withstand the extreme conditions on Venus, race to snag human remains off the surface.

The plot is interesting and satisfying (though with a bit of clunky foreshadowing), but the star of the story is Venus. Bova’s characters reach Venus quickly, so the bulk of the novel is spent floating in their ships. It’s incredibly hot, and the atmosphere thick and roiling. Both ships were designed as dirigibles. Once the crafts reached the atmosphere, they floated like airships through the currents, sinking slowly toward the surface. Of course, it’s not that easy. There are plenty of surprises.

Stefan Rudnicki narrates, and yet again I enjoyed him. He’s one of the best narrators we have. I’m always pleased to hear him perform a good piece of science fiction.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

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