Commentary: The art of book (and audiobook) arrangement

April 30, 2012 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Commentary 

SFFaudio Commentary

I’ve never understood the appeal of the art of flower arrangement – flowers are pretty, and I guess they’re full of symbolism – but other than that I don’t really get the appeal.

On the other hand, I find that whenever I visit someone’s home I’m immediately off and looking at their bookshelves. To me that’s where the real art of arrangement happens.

I happened to do a little of that myself today.

It started yesterday – when I spotted this perfectly good bookshelf being given away! FREE!

Free Bookshelf!

I snapped it right up, dusted it right off, and found a place for it in my apartment.

My New Bookshelf!

Then I policed up various books, and audiobooks, from various other overflowing shelves and arranged them in a handy and functional order.

Arrangement

They’re all basically grouped by author. Some of the books I’ve had for decades, others are quite new.

Here are a few details:

Blackstone Audio - Robert A. Heinlein Audiobooks

Blackstone Audio - Philip K. Dick Audiobooks

Robert E. Howard books and audiobooks

Top shelf - Robert Silverberg, Guy de Maupassant, Robert A. Heinlein, Mark Twain, Full Cast Audio, Edgar Allan Poe

Posted by Jesse Willis

LibriVox: We Are Seven by William Wordsworth

April 30, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

I’m a shy visitor to the world of poetry. I find myself unable to even consider an approach to any given poem without some sort of tour guide, as it were. The latest such guide was an episode of BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time in which Lyrical Ballads, a famous and influential collection of poems by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth, was discussed.

Of the many poems mentioned, one was entirely new to me – and that was We Are Seven by William Wordsworth. The guests’ discussion of it somehow reminded me of something – of what I’m not exactly sure – was it Harlan Ellison’s Jeffty Is Five? I don’t know – but I was reminded of something nonetheless. I think you may be too.

Here’s a snippet from the Wikipedia description of it:

“[We Are Seven] describes a discussion between an adult poetic speaker and a ‘little cottage girl’ about the number of brothers and sisters who dwell with her. The poem turns on the question of whether to count two dead siblings.”

Have a listen for yourself, I found it rather haunting:

LibriVoxWe Are Seven
By William Wordsworth; Read by Verity Kendall
1 |MP3| – Approx. 3 Minutes [POEM]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: April 27, 2012
First published in Lyrical Ballads, With A Few Other Poems.

Here’s the text itself:

We Are Seven by William Wordsworth

A simple child, dear brother Jim,
That lightly draws its breath,
And feels its life in every limb,
What should it know of death?

I met a little cottage girl,
She was eight years old, she said;
Her hair was thick with many a curl
That cluster’d round her head.

She had a rustic, woodland air,
And she was wildly clad;
Her eyes were fair, and very fair,
—Her beauty made me glad.

“Sisters and brothers, little maid,
“How many may you be?”
“How many? seven in all,” she said,
And wondering looked at me.

“And where are they, I pray you tell?”
She answered, “Seven are we,
“And two of us at Conway dwell,
“And two are gone to sea.

“Two of us in the church-yard lie,
“My sister and my brother,
“And in the church-yard cottage, I
“Dwell near them with my mother.”

“You say that two at Conway dwell,
“And two are gone to sea,
“Yet you are seven; I pray you tell
“Sweet Maid, how this may be?”

Then did the little Maid reply,
“Seven boys and girls are we;
“Two of us in the church-yard lie,
“Beneath the church-yard tree.”

“You run about, my little maid,
“Your limbs they are alive;
“If two are in the church-yard laid,
“Then ye are only five.”

“Their graves are green, they may be seen,”
The little Maid replied,
“Twelve steps or more from my mother’s door,
“And they are side by side.

“My stockings there I often knit,
“My ‘kerchief there I hem;
“And there upon the ground I sit—
“I sit and sing to them.

“And often after sunset, Sir,
“When it is light and fair,
“I take my little porringer,
“And eat my supper there.

“The first that died was little Jane;
“In bed she moaning lay,
“Till God released her of her pain,
“And then she went away.

“So in the church-yard she was laid,
“And all the summer dry,
“Together round her grave we played,
“My brother John and I.

“And when the ground was white with snow,
“And I could run and slide,
“My brother John was forced to go,
“And he lies by her side.”

“How many are you then,” said I,
“If they two are in Heaven?”
The little Maiden did reply,
“O Master! we are seven.”

“But they are dead; those two are dead!
“Their spirits are in heaven!”
‘Twas throwing words away; for still
The little Maid would have her will,
And said, “Nay, we are seven!”

[Thanks also to Carmen H and Ruth Golding]

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #158 – READALONG: The Syndic by C.M. Kornbluth

April 30, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #158 – Last week’s podcast was an unabridged reading of The Syndic by C.M. Kornbluth. This week Jesse discusses it with the narrator, Mark Douglas Nelson!

Talked about on today’s show:
SciPodBooks.com, the SciPodCast, The Syndic by C.M. Kornbluth, The City At World’s End by Edmond Hamilton, the virtues of democracy, Oath Of Fealty by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, H. Beam Piper, Space Viking, a wealth of ideas, Frederik Pohl, the story as a straw man, Robert A. Heinlein, telepathy, witches, dystopia, utopia, polo played with jeeps (mounted with 50 caliber machine guns), the syndicate vs. the mob, Ireland, Iceland, libertarianism, the Prometheus Unbound review of The Syndic, polyandry, an economy run on alcohol, sex, and gambling, laissez faire capitalism, monopolies, robber barons, taxes vs. shakedowns, “a real mess of a book”, should a society compromise its ideals to save itself?, is the joke on us?, a velvet gloved invisible hand, The High Crusade by Poul Anderson, the children’s crusade, WWII, rule by mob vs. rule by mobsters, Ron Paul, the sustainability of a war based economy need not much concern the arms manufacturer, Isaac Asimov, The City At World’s End has a real plot, disaster stories, new ideas trump big flaws, “writing by the seat of your pants”, space opera, E.E. “Doc” Smith, respect for science and scientists, Farnham’s Freehold by Robert A. Heinlein, The Green Odyssey by Philip Jose Farmer, LibriVox.org, Riverworld series, rolling ships, Hyperion by Dan Simmons, the problem of endless series, StarShipSofa, The Truth Is A Cave In The Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman, A Princess Of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, A Voyage To Arcturus by David Lindsay, “philosophy, philosophy, philosophy”, it starts with a séance, C.S. Lewis, Right Ho, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse, Jeeves And Wooster, Leave It To Jeeves, LibriVox’s new funding (from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation), Orson Scott Card, Harlan Ellison, Airborn by Kenneth Oppel, Gregg Margarite, Lone Star Planet by H. Beam Piper, Kevin J. Anderson, Principles Of Economics, iambik audio, Wonder Audio, All Or Nothing by Preston L. Allen, The Tattoo Murder Case by Akimitsu Takagi, Toshiro Mifune, Akira Kurosawa, High And Low, Netflix, Sweet And Lowdown, One O’Clock Jump by Lise McClendon, A Is For Alibi by Sue Grafton, Talents Incorporated by Murray Leinster, goofy, the William Woodsworth Microphone Showdown, do expensive mics make great narrators?

Posted by Jesse Willis

CraftLit/Just The Books: Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

April 28, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

CraftLitHeather Ordover has a great new book at the center of of her splendid CraftLit podcast.

It’s Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift!

You can read the shownotes HERE.

|MP3|

Podcast feed: http://craftlit.libsyn.com/rss

Just The BooksAnd, if you’re not into crafts, as much as books, check out the Just The Books podcast (which is the CraftLit podcast minus the crafting) – pretty crafty title eh?

I expect Gulliver’s Travels to enter the Just The Books feed soon.

|MP3|

Podcast feed: http://jtb.libsyn.com/rss

Posted by Jesse Willis

LibriVox: Under The Knife by H.G. Wells

April 27, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
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SFFaudio Online Audio

Under The Knife by H.G. Wells

Here’s an interesting story by the always pioneering H.G. Wells – it’s Horror of sorts – or as close as the master of SF can come to it – it features an out of body experience, a near death experience, and astral projection!

Under The Knife by H.G. Wells - Editorial Introduction by Hugo Gernsback

Under The Knife by H.G. Wells - Illustration from Amazing Stories

LibriVoxUnder The Knife (aka Slip Under the Knife)
By H.G. Wells; Read by William Coon
1 |MP3| – Approx. 35 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: January 07, 2007
A patient, under surgery, relates his sense experiences as careens around the physical universe in a celestial journey. First published in The New Review, January 1896.

Here’s a |PDF| made from the March 1927 issue of Amazing Stories.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Summer Isles by Ian R. MacLeod

April 27, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

AUDIBLE FRONTIERS - The Summer Isles by Ian R. MacLeodThe Summer Isles
By Ian R. MacLeod; Read by Steve Hodson
Audible Download – Approx. 13 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audible Frontiers
Published: 2012
Themes: / Alternative History / Dystopia / History / Fascism / Homosexuality /

I have always been intrigued by alternative histories. Unfortunately my knowledge of history sometimes limits my enjoyment, being more of an overview of the subject. I often can’t tell if an event has been changed, and if so, whether it is significant or not. In some of the better alternate histories you can get away with not knowing too much about the period and still enjoy the story. Thankfully, in this case, I had recently been reading a history of Europe covering the same period from the early 1910’s to 1940.

MacLeod’s The Summer Isles is set primarily in a 1940 where Great Britain lost The Great War in 1918. America doesn’t enter the war and France makes an appeasement with Kaiser Wilhelm II’s Germany. The result is that Britain, not Germany, is left in a state of shock, feeling betrayed by their supposed allies. A young soldier, John Arthur, rises to power in the bleak years that follow, suggesting a parallel to Hitler, who gets only a single reference, never having the opportunities to gain power that losing the war afforded. The great Empire that was Britain is stripped away in the reparations following the war. That sense of betrayal is used to fuel Arthur’s rise to power as he brings in his political movement “Modernism”. John Arthur’s portrait hangs everywhere, even in the men’s public toilets.

Modernism is a very British take on fascism and drove several of the same horrors that Naziism did in our own history. Jews, homosexuals, intellectuals, the Irish and any and all other ‘deviants’ are persecuted and ultimately removed from the new Modernist society. The Jews in particular are sent to be “resettled” on the eponymous Summer Isles.

The story is told by Geoffrey Brook, a secretly homosexual Oxford history Don, who had some prestige for having been a favourite teacher of John Arthur as a child. Brook is in his 60’s in 1940 when he receives the news that he has at terminal lung cancer.

Brook, in trying to reconcile himself with his past, recounts in flashbacks the one true love of his life that he lost in the Great War. More flashbacks fill in the years before and after that war; several of the scenes flowing together with the present day as Brook’s mind drifts in and out of his reminiscences. Particularly when he visits some of the same locations.

MacLeod’s writing is excellent, at times didactic, as the historian narrator recounts past political and social events, yet by turns touching, confused, detailed and frightened as more personal or recent events are recounted. Slow at times, this fits will with the drifting recollections of the narrator as the hidden story is gradually revealed. The final act of the novel moves at a much faster pace, while still holding convincingly onto the character of the narrator. The Summer Isles was nominated for the John C Campbell Memorial Award, the Sidewise Award for Alternate History and the World Fantasy Award.

The audio narration by Steve Hodson fits the character perfectly. The weariness with life, the broken rapture at prized but lost moments of love and of lust are all perfectly portrayed. He even nails virtually all of the Scottish pronunciations; a pet peeve sf mind, being Scottish myself, with several other narrators.

Posted by Paul [W] Campbell

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