Review of The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From The Living Dead by Max Brooks

September 28, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

RANDOM HOUSE AUDIO - The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From The Living Dead by Max BrooksThe Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From The Living Dead
By Max Brooks; Read by Marc Cashman
Approx. 8 Hours 38 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: September 12, 2006
ISBN: 9780739342725
Themes: / Zombies / Humor / Horror / Apocalypse /

The next time a Class 2 zombie outbreak occurs in my neighborhood, I’ll be well-prepared to deal with the shambling corpses of hungry undead now that I’ve read Max Brooks’ The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From The Living Dead.

The Zombie Survival Guide dispels exaggerated myths and legends of the undead and instead presents the reader with unvarnished “truths” about zombies. You’ll find information on zombies’ physical strength, sight, hearing, and rate of decay, and the pros and cons of various weaponry for battling the undead (everything from medieval maces and claymores, to M-16s and flamethrowers). It describes various scenarios for identifying early signs of localized (Class 1) outbreaks, to full-blown widespread undead infestation (Class 3). You’ll find best practices for battling zombies in urban settings, in harsh desert and swamp environments, even under the sea. The Zombie Survival Guide tells you how to defend your home by stocking up with key food and supplies and moving to your second floor and destroying all staircases (recommend for Class 2), or how to survive on the run as you move to the most remote and therefore safest parts of the planet in a world-wide zombie apocalypse in which mankind is overrun (Class 4). The best vehicle should an outbreak occur? You might not guess it, but it’s a bicycle. On a bike you can easily outrun the slow, slouching pace of zombies, it will never run out of gas, you can carry a bicycle over rough terrain, and you can maneuver a bike through the inevitable traffic jams that accompany a full-on panic. Motorcycles are very good too, though their noise attracts the undead. Boats are also a secure means of travel, says Brooks, but watch your anchor line—zombies walking on the ocean floor can use it to climb up to your boat. “Hundreds” of hapless victims have died this way, Brooks tells us.

The Zombie Survival Guide serves as a perfect gateway to Brooks’ highly recommended World War Z |READ OUR REVIEW|. If for nothing else, and you find Brooks’ post-apocalyptic strategems and survival tactics tedious, I’d recommend this book simply for the highly entertaining “Recorded Outbreaks” section. Here Brooks describes various zombie outbreaks throughout history, from ancient tales recorded in chilling primitive artwork, all the way up through living eyewitness accounts from the early 21st century. These are written in the economical journalism style that Brooks’ employs so effectively in World War Z, lending these “outbreaks” a documentary-style feel, which makes them seem more realistic and terrifying. According to Brooks there have been many zombie outbreaks throughout history—perhaps even in my neighborhood, hence my need to be ready—but these have been largely laughed off by skeptical media, ascribed to outbreaks of disease, localized madness, or industrial pollution, or covered up by governments or the CDC, fearful that public knowledge would result in full-scale panic.

For all its earnestness you have to take The Zombie Survival Guide with a heavy dose of salt. While it’s written in a deadpan style and never descends into farce, and purports to be a “real” guide for complete protection against the walking dead, when you read passages like “If you want to know the true danger of an airborne (parachute) attack against zombies, try dropping a square centimeter of meat on a swarming anthill. Chances are, that meat will never touch the ground. In short, air support is just that—support. People who believe it to be a war-winner have no business planning, orchestrating, or participating in any conflict with the living dead,” you can’t help but laugh (I did laugh out loud, several times). While not as well-written or as compelling as World War Z, for zombie aficionados The Zombie Survival Guide is nevertheless a must-read.

Marc Cashman narrates with a dry, clipped voice that perfectly suits the how-to nature of The Zombie Survival Guide. There’s a touch of William Shatner in his delivery, with dramatic pauses in odd places, but that only adds to the fun.

Posted by Brian Murphy

A discussion of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery

September 28, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

SFFaudio News

“Why has this particular human being suffered such a terrible fate?”
-Professor James Durbin, USC

Posted by Jesse Willis

The House On The Borderlands by William Hope Hodgson (in CBR format)

September 28, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

This is handy, it’s a scan, in the |CBR| format of the ACE Books edition of The House On The Borderlands by William Hope Hodgson (D-553).

Ace D-553 - The House On The Borderland by William Hope Hodgson

It makes for a perfect companion piece to Wayne June’s narration of the classic novel, which is still available, FREE for streaming, HERE (as well as being available for purchase in MP3 format, a massive bargain at $10).

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Legend by Marie Lu

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

SFFaudio Review

Legend by Marie LuLegend
Written by Marie Lu; Read by Steven Kaplan & Mariel Stern
9 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Published: November 2011
ISBN: 9781611760088
Themes: / dystopia / thriller / romance / YA /

A dystopian novel set in a future where The United States of America is a forgotten memory, Legend is part science fiction, part thriller, and part romance aimed at young adults.

The story is set sometime in the future in what is now California. The USA is apparently long-gone and instead, North America is divided into The Republic and The Colonies, which seem to be at odds. Generally it seems that The Republic is the western part of the US while The Colonies are the eastern part. From clues in the text, the reader is also lead to believe that The Colonies have more technology than does The Republic, at least in terms of weapons and possibly medicine. The reader doesn’t learn much else about The Colonies in this book, since the story is centered on two youth in The Republic. However, it is the first in a planned trilogy and it’s possible that future books will explore The Colonies more.

The Republic seems to be a militaristic state. The poor are looked down upon and the “rich” seem to be the ones running the police/militia. Through context clues, we find that nobody–not even the “rich”–are safe from government snooping. There is a plague that seems to mostly impact the poor; the rich get vaccines every year for protection. As a result of the plague, there are regular inspections and “plague checks” of those in the poor areas of town. There are also a lot of natural disasters. Hurricanes occur quite frequently, with co-commitant flooding. Earthquakes are also somewhat regular happenings. Most of this, though, forms the background for the main story.

The bulk of the story surrounds two youths, Dey and June, who are on opposite ends of the class spectrum. Relatively early, we learn that all youths have to go through “The Trials” at age 10. These trials affect ones position in society. Those who do well are allowed to go on to high school and a sort of college, to become leaders in politics and the military. Those who do average are given blue-collar jobs. Those who fail become wards of the state, destined to do menial tasks for their government. Dey failed his trials. June is the only one known to have aced them. Rather than be resigned to his fate, Dey has escaped from the government and spends his time as a bit of a loner, working to help the poor–in particular, his family–by stealing from the military/government. He’s particularly good at this and is actually the most wanted criminal in The Republic.

The story itself builds in a rather predictable fashion from there. Dey’s family is marked as one that gets the plague. Realizing this, Dey decides to steal the necessary antidote from the hospital. As he escapes, he ends up killing June’s brother, Metteaus. June, a top student in the militaristic school, is graduated early and put on the case to try to catch her brother’s killer. While trying to find the murderer, June goes undercover and ends up getting rescued from a fight by Dey. At this point, she doesn’t realize that Dey is who he is, and they strike up a sort of friendship. Eventually, June figures out Dey’s identity and aids in his capture by the police. However, having spent time with him, she has a hard time believing that Dey killed Metteaus. She ends up doing more investigation and learning many uncomfortable truths about The Republic and many of her long-held beliefs are called into question. I won’t spoil any more plot details here…

Legend is a fairly typical dystopian novel. It centers on an oppressed lower-class in society and a privileged upper class that mostly is kept in the dark about how the society works and what is really going on. As with many books like it, the protagonists (June and Dey) are resourceful and intelligent…and to some extent, rebellious. Lu doesn’t explain all of the mysteries in this book. At one point, a character calls “The United States” a legend of the past, and the reader isn’t told how society has gotten to the state its in. It seems reasonable, though, to assume that most of the society doesn’t know its own history, since they barely know the reality of the current state of affairs.

Fans of The Hunger Games will recognize key elements common to both books/series. That’s not necessarily a bad thing…while Legend is fairly predictable, it was still enjoyable enough. This is a science fiction novel aimed at the young adult crowd and isn’t particularly deep on ideas. Lu wraps themes common to the genre in a fast-paced plot. There’s nothing groundbreaking, but fans of the genre probably won’t mind. That said, I’m not sure I need to read the rest of the trilogy. It will be interesting to see where Lu takes it.

I listened to the audio version of this book. There were two narrators. The book is written from the viewpoints of Dey and June and alternates between these viewpoints. Mariel Stern read the parts from June’s point of view, Steven Kaplan read the parts for Dey’s. The reading was fine, though nothing particular stood out. Where some narrators do a bit of voice acting, trying to put more emotion into the voices and use different voices for each character, neither Stern nor Kaplan seemed to do that here; it was a more flat rather than dramatic reading. The only “excitement” in the narration came during the climax, where it seemed that Stern read more quickly, as if her reading speed was trying to keep pace with the story. The “flatness” of the reading doesn’t detract from the story, though. In fact, it can be far better than the alternative, as sometimes narration can be distracting if too much acting is done.

All in all, this wasn’t a bad book. Sure, it could have gone more deeply into the ideas instead of focusing so much on the plot…but that’s OK. Not every book needs to be deep. This one was decent and an enjoyable enough quick read. Young adults (and not-so-young adults) who enjoyed The Hunger Games will probably enjoy this one as well.

Review by terpkristin.

Review of 21st Century Dead: A Zombie Anthology

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

SFFaudio Review

21st Century Dead21st Century Dead: A Zombie Anthology
Edited by Christopher Golden; Read by Scott Brick, Cassandra Campbell, Bernadette Dunne, Paul Michael Garcia, Kirby Heyborne, Malcolm Hillgartner, Chris Patton, John Pruden, Renée Raudman, Stefan Rudnicki, Sean Runnette, Simon Vance, and Tom Weiner.
12.5 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: July 2012
ISBN: 9781455160532
Themes: / zombies / flesh-eating babies / post-modernism / post-apocalypse / virus /

Publisher summary:

The Stoker Award–winning author of the acclaimed, eclectic anthology The New Dead returns with 21st Century Dead and an all-new lineup of authors from every corner of the fiction world, shining a dark light on our fascination with tales of death and resurrection—and with zombies! The stellar stories in this volume include a tale set in the world of Daniel H. Wilson’s Robopocalypse , the first published fiction by Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter, and a tale of love, family, and resurrection from the legendary Orson Scott Card. This new volume also includes stories from other award-winning and New York Times bestselling authors, such as Simon R. Green, Chelsea Cain, Jonathan Maberry, Duane Swiercyznski, Caitlin Kittredge, Brian Keene, Amber Benson, John Skipp, S. G. Browne, Thomas E. Sniegoski, Hollywood screenwriter Stephen Susco, National Book Award nominee Dan Chaon, and others.

Contents:

“Zombies Are Good for You: An Introduction” by Christopher Golden.
“Biters” by Mark Morris.
“Why Mothers Let Their Babies Watch Television: A Just-So Horror Story” by Chelsea Cain
“Carousel” by Orson Scott Card.
“Reality Bites” by S. G. Browne.
“The Drop” by Stephen Susco.
“Antiparallelogram” by Amber Benson.
“How We Escaped Our Certain Fate” by Dan Chaon.
“A Mother’s Love” by John M. McIlveen.
“Down and Out in Dead Town” by Simon R. Green.
“Devil Dust” by Caitlin Kittredge.
“The Dead of Dromore” by Ken Bruen.
“All the Comforts of Home: A Beacon Story” by John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow.
“Ghost Dog & Pup: Stay” by Thomas E. Sniegoski.
“Tic Boom: A Slice of Love” by Kurt Sutter
“Jack and Jill” by Jonathan Maberry.
“Tender as Teeth” by Stephanie Crawford and Duane Swierczynski.
“Couch Potato” by Brian Keene.
“The Happy Bird and Other Tales” by Rio Youers.
“Parasite” by Daniel H. Wilson.

What would zombies look like in the 21st century?  Instead of hiding them or destroying them, could we normalize them?  Teach our children how to live in a zombie-occupied world?  Watch for signs of infection the way we watch for sneezes and fever?  The stories in this anthology of recent zombie fiction ask these questions and more.

A few highlights and remarks:

Biters, by Mark Morris, has young children bringing baby zombies home for a school project.  I think I’d prefer the baby wets-a-lot or a sack of flour over a “child” that ate rotten flesh.

Why Mothers Let Their Babies Watch Television: A Just-So Horror Story, by Chelsea Cain, may be the shortest story in the anthology but packs a punch.  Also, I’m seriously never having children.

Ghost Dog & Pup was way too long and hardly about zombies, probably my least favorite!

Jack & Jill by Jonathan Mayberry had this line, making an existential crisis out of becoming a self-aware zombie:
“The need to not be devoured, even though you already are.”

Tic Boom is the first published fiction from the writer of Sons of Anarchy, so that will definitely be a curiosity for fans of that show.

Parasite is set in Daniel H. Wilson’s Robopocalypse world, highly recommended for fans!

ETA: Many of the narrators will be familiar to frequent audiobook listeners.  Without going back and specifically listening to the starting tracks of each story, there is not an easy way to access who read each story, however overall the variety makes the stories more vibrant.

Posted by Jenny Colvin

CBSRMT: The Murders In The Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe

September 27, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Aural Noir, Online Audio 

Aural Noir: Online Audio

Although this 1975 radio drama adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Murders In The Rue Morgue drops much of the material of the original short story, adds new characters, and a new subplot, I’m pleased to say I really, really liked it.

If you had any difficulty getting into the recent podcast audiobook of the original story, SFFaudio Podcast #179, you’ll likely love how accessible this CBS Radio Mystery Theater adaptation is.

CBS Radio Mystery TheaterCBS Radio Mystery Theater #0198 – The Murders In The Rue Morgue
Adapted from the story by Edgar Allan Poe; Adapted by George Lowthar; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 44 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Broadcaster: CBS Radio
Broadcast: January 7, 1975
Source: CBSRMT.com
A woman is brutally murdered and mutilated in a locked room. A police detective desperate for promotion calls on an amateur detective to help him solve the crime with a most unusual solution.

Cast:
Paul Hecht
Guy Sorel
Corrine Orr
Dan Ocko

[via CBSRMT.com]

Posted by Jesse Willis

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