Review of The World Jones Made by Philip K. Dick

January 26, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Please welcome our newest reviewer, Marissa!  You can also download our podcast readalong discussion of this book.

The World Jones Made
By Philip K Dick; Read by Christopher Lane.
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
ISBN: 978-1-4558-1456-5
[UNABRIDGED] 6 discs – 7 hours

Themes: / precognition / relativism / post-apocalpytic / carnival / government /

Publisher Summary:

Floyd Jones has always been able to see exactly one year into his future, a gift and curse that began one year before he was even born. As a fortuneteller at a postapocalyptic carnival, Jones is a powerful force, and may be able to free society from its paralyzing Relativism. If, that is, he can avoid the radioactively unstable government hit man on his tail.

So far, every Phillip K. Dick book I read makes me fall in love with him a little harder. This one didn’t disappoint.

PKD’s protagonist in The World Jones Made is a dedicated, world-weary secret-service officer for FedGov, the world government in 2002. He thinks of himself as something like “the town dog catcher,” and he’s proud of his work, even if other people (including his wife) don’t much appreciate it.

Cussick’s job is to help enforce the new Relativistic society in which just about anything is tolerated and you can believe whatever you want, but you can’t state personal beliefs as facts or impose your views on anyone else. The world has recently emerged from a huge religious war that nobody really won, and now religious dogma as well as anti-religious dogma (or any kind of fanaticism) is illegal.

Of course, there’s a dystopian twist: anyone who is caught stating their personal opinions as facts loses their civil liberties and is sent to a labor camp.

The story starts when Cussick meets a weird, slightly feverish fortune-teller named Floyd Jones at a carnival. Cussick arrests Jones for talking about the future as fact, but it soon becomes clear that Jones isn’t just spouting opinions; he’s a true precog. The FedGov police are forced to release him (just as Jones knew they would), and Jones’ subsequent cult following soon begins to upset the “stability” FedGov had forced on the population.

This is the set-up to the main plot, but I haven’t even mentioned the sub-plots that run alongside and intertwine the Jones/Cussick story, like the strange mutants who live inside a hot, steamy biodome refuge near San Francisco. There’s also the problem of the barn-sized jellyfish-aliens that have been drifting down from space to die on Earth’s surface. No one really knows what “the Drifters” are or what they want, but people find them kinda disgusting and scary (fair enough) and have a tendency to attack them in angry mobs.

FedGov, meanwhile, is trying to protect the aliens from injury, in case whatever has sent them doesn’t appreciate mob attacks by Earthlings. One of the notices up on a bulletin board in this future world goes like this: “WARNING TO THE PUBLIC: Migrating Protozoa not to be harmed. The public is hereby advised that certain Interplanetary Migratory Protozoa, referred to as “Drifters,” have, by special act of the Supreme Council of the Federal World Government, been placed in the category of Wards of the State and are not to be damaged, harmed, mutilated, destroyed, abused, tortured or in any way subjected to cruel or unusual treatment with intent to injure or kill.”

The scenery and situations in this book are pure PKD: dark and grim and bizarre. There are mutants, precogs, wives behaving mysteriously, and smoky subterranean bars where patrons order heroin from robot servants and hermaphrodites perform live sex shows on the stage.

PKD switches viewpoints between the characters of the main story-lines: the biodome mutants, Cussick, and of course the fascinating Jones, who is a long-suffering prisoner to his own future: his ability to see one year in the future means that he must experience every conversation and event twice (to his extreme irritation).

For me, Christopher Lane’s reading was just about perfect: his calm, determined narration and pacing is well suited for PKD’s writing. The characters already had distinctive personalities and voices, but Lane managed to enhance them. He also did a great job with the female voices by adjusting his tone, accents and pacing without affecting that artificial high pitch I’ve heard some other male narrators do (cringe). I especially loved how he portrayed Jones’ bored frustration at having to live every moment twice over.

I’ll definitely look out for more of Lane’s readings, and I highly recommend this audiobook as a brilliant and weird PKD experience.

Review by Marissa van Uden

An NPR Star Wars adaptation photo circa 1981

January 25, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, News 

SFFaudio News

I’ve been surfing through a batch of late 1970s and early 1980s Playboys.

From page 50 of the March 1981 issue, check out this photo from the recording of the NPR adaptation of Star Wars:

Playboy, March 1981 - Star Wars NPR

The accompanying article, by Judson Klinger, quotes John Madden, the director, saying “Mark Hamill is a sensational radio actor – he has an incredible ear for it.”

And a legendary voice acting career began right there.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Dream-Land by Edgar Allan Poe (read by Wayne June)

January 22, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

I hadn’t heard of Dream-Lands, by Edgar Allan Poe, until I spotted mention of it in some obscure tome. It sounded cool. So I found the original publication in Graham’s Magazine, June 1844, read it, and then and sent it to my friend, Wayne June. Wayne hadn’t heard of it before, but he loved it, calling it “appropriately dismal.” The best part, he has recorded it for our listening pleasure.

Pleasure?

Is that the right word?

No, not pleasure.

For our edification.

He recorded it for our edification.

Dream-Land by Edgar Allan Poe - from Graham's Magazine, June 1844

Dream-Land illustration by Hugo Steiner-Prag

Dream-Land illustration by Wilfried Satty

Dreamlands illustrated by W. Heath Robinson

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Quitters, Inc. by Stephen King

January 21, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Quitters, Inc.
By Stephen King; Performed by Eric Roberts
Publisher: Phoenix Audio
Published: January 1, 2006
ISBN: 1597770779
[UNABRIDGED] 1 disc

Themes: / horror / suspense / quitting smoking /

Publisher summary:

“Dick Morrison’s life has become a nightmare of addictions, filling his days with overeating, overworking, and smoking way too much. When an old friend tells him about a surefire way to quit, he’s more than willing to give it a shot. But what Dick doesn?t know is that Quitters, Inc. demands a high price from anyone who strays from their rigid rules?like a few volts of electricity for the nearest and dearest…or maybe a missing thumb? Forced to choose between his desperate need for cigarettes and the dire consequences of giving in to his addiction, Dick must decide just how important another drag really is.”

Stephen King’s short story “Quitter’s Inc.” was originally featured in the author’s 1978 anthology Night Shift, which also included the story “Children of the Corn.” The audiobook version of “Quitter’s Inc.” features Academy Awards nominated Eric Roberts (actress Julia Roberts’ brother) and was originally released by Phoenix Audio as part of Otto Penzler’s “Greatest Mysteries of All Time” series.

Soft jazz accompanies the initial narrative complementing a bar scene conversation between the main character Dick Morrison and an old buddy. Dick’s let himself go, smoking, overeating, etc. His friend Jim leaves him a card for Quitters, Inc; a low-profile firm that helped him quit smoking using secret techniques. Eventually, Dick’s curiosity gets the better of him and the story details the firm’s unorthodox techniques. The soft jazz picks up again later in the story during a segment that quickly highlights later scenes from Dick’s life and again at the conclusion.

The story is approximately 45 minutes and can be easily enjoyed in one listening session from a single CD.

Review by Dan VK

The SFFaudio Podcast #196 – READALONG: A World Out Of Time by Larry Niven

January 21, 2013 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #196 – Scott, Jesse, and Tamahome discuss the Blackstone Audio audiobook of A World Out Of Time by Larry Niven.

Talked about on today’s show:
Tamahome is a third, Ender’s Game, 1976, Rammer by Larry Niven (1971), a fix-up novel, Infinivox, Pat Bottino, “his most perfect short story”, the novel ruins the short story (sort of), the anticipation is more interesting than the resolution, chapters 2 and 3 nullify the power of chapter 1, Corbell, Peerssa, the Clouds of Magellan, “a fuck you ending”, interesting social systems, a sciencey vocab, cryonics, Bussard Ram Jets, ergosphere, Protector, Beowulf Shaeffer, The Soft Weapon, the Technovelgy website, biological package probes, the bubble car, the empty man, gravity assisted subway, poster TV, RNA shots “don’t read Cliff Notes, eat Cliff”, planaria (flatworms) experiments, humans are wired for language, birds are wired for flight, young forever, Star Trek, null field, consciousness transferal, continuation of consciousness, Robert J. Sawyer, Rollback, Identity Theft (or Shed Skin), your robot body, we care about will, Four Worlds Of The Diamond by Jack Chalker, “there’s a mystery that needs to be solved, cloning, Lilith: A Snake In The Grass, Audible.com, The River Of The Dancing Gods, The Identity Matrix, Demons Of The Dancing Gods, G.O.D., Inc., Dancers In The Afterglow, Immortality, Inc. by Robert Sheckley, “who are you when you’re just some ground up hamburger?”, he’s treated like a criminal, why don’t the citizens want to make this trip?, a certain kind of person, Louis Wu, “a special sort of breed”, the two CBC Ideas shows on James Cameron, manned spaceflight, Playgrounds Of The Mind, “my favourite characters are all tourists”, “I demand to be a tourist”, The Integral Trees by Larry Niven, a whole world in zero gravity, “this guy is Mr. Physics”, Arthur C. Clarke, Hothouse by Brian Aldiss, Ringworld, The Ringworld Engineers, Robert A. Heinlein, Dan Carlin’s Common Sense, David Brin, passing a planet, “something on the order of that”, moving planets, Uranus, mathematically logical (but with non-existent materials), the air is full of the oceans, the null-rooms, a null-box, zero-entropy space, better sandwich storage, transporting the garbage out, Doctor McCoy, quantum communication and quantum teleportation, Think Like A Dinosaur by James Patrick Kelly, Seeing Ear Theatre, Dream Park, Oath Of Fealty, The Mote In God’s Eye, Inferno, Lucifer’s Hammer, Luke Burrage, Escape From Hell, Footfall by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, an alien invasion story, Scott has a signed copy!, elephantine aliens with twin trunks, the audiobook of Footfall is available, a book written by people who care about science!, a septic tank full of books, Robert A. Heinlein, Dan Carlin’s Common Sense, David Brin, the DHS vs. the U.S. military, what would Larry Niven do as the head of the EPA?, a Death Star, Obama’s unemployed geekishness, Newt Gingrich, moonbase!, he loves himself because he’s surrounded by idiots, the idea of an idea man is fantastic, Douglas Adams, a thousand or ten thousand year project, focused on the current and the recent past, the deep time issue, time capsules, the Long Now Foundation, cathedral building, pyramid building, “on the cosmic scale”, the space race was motivated by military competition, Space X http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SpaceX , a private moonbase?, the ultra rich, science isn’t for profit, human existence isn’t for profit, space probes, hydro-electric dams, where is the Moonbase Kickstarter?, maybe we could have just one guy and his clone up there, Moon, real Science Fiction, Crashlander, Neutron Star, Peter F. Hamilton is an ideas man, Great North Road, five pages describing a weather change, another fix-up novel, Neutron Star, the animated Star Trek, Kzin, Alan Dean Foster, World Of Ptavvs, Algis Budrys, telepathy, Charles Stross, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Community, The Big Bang Theory, Dan Harmon’s keynote.

A World Out Of Time by Larry Niven
A World Out Of Time by Larry Niven

Posted by Jesse Willis

Here’s an annotated table of contents for Rip-Off! edited by Gardner Dozois

January 17, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

SFFaudio News

After talking about it on the last SFFaudio Podcast NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRIVALS episode, I decided we really needed to know exactly which classic stories were being ripped-off in the new Audible Frontiers collection entitled Rip-Off!.

You’re welcome!

I’ve also made a note of the narrator for each story. And, while I’m at it I should tell you that nearly every story is an hour long. Every story with the exception of James Patrick Kelly’s (which runs about 90 minutes) and Tad Williams’ (which runs just over 26 minutes).

Audible Frontiers - Rip-Off!

Rip-Off!
Edited by Gardner Dozois; Read by various readers
Audible Download – Approx. 12 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audible Frontiers
Published: December 18, 2012
In Rip-Off!, 13 of today’s best and most honored writers of speculative fiction face a challenge even they would be hard-pressed to conceive: Pick your favorite opening line from a classic piece of fiction (or even non-fiction) – then use it as the first sentence of an entirely original short story. In the world of Rip-Off!, Call me Ishmael introduces a tough-as-nails private eye – who carries a harpoon; The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz inspires the tale of an aging female astronaut who’s being treated by a doctor named Dorothy Gale; and Huckleberry Finn leads to a wild ride with a foul-mouthed riverboat captain who plies the waters of Hell. Once you listen to Rip-Off! you’ll agree: If Shakespeare or Dickens were alive today, they’d be ripping off the authors in this great collection. As a bonus, the authors introduce their stories, explaining what they ripped-off – and why. Rip-Off! was produced in partnership with SFWA – Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. Gardner Dozois served as project editor.

Annotated table of contents:

Introduction by John Scalzi, read by Scalzi

Fireborn by Robert Charles Wilson – Introduction by Wilson, inspired by a “Rootabaga” story by Carl Sandburg – Read by Khristine Hvam

The Evening Line by Mike Resnick – Introduction by Resnick, inspired by Pride And Prejudice by – Read by L.J. Ganser

No Decent Patrimony by Elizabeth Bear – Introduction by Bear, inspired by Edward II by Christopher Marlowe – Read by Scott Brick

The Big Whale by Allen M. Steele – Introduction by Steele, inspired by Moby Dick by Herman Melville – Read by Christian Rummell

Begone by Daryl Gregory – Introduction by Gregory, inspired by David Copperfield by Charles Dickens – Read by Jonathan Davis

The Red Menace by Lavie Tidhar – Introduction by Tidhar, inspired by The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx – Read by Stefan Rudnicki

Muse Of Fire by John Scalzi – Introduction by Scalzi, inspired by Henry V by William Shakespeare – Read by Wil Wheaton

Writer’s Block by Nancy Kress – Introduction by Kress, inspired by Paul Clifford by Edward Bulwer-Lytton – Read by David Marantz

Highland Reel by Jack Campbell – Introduction by Campbell, inspired by Macbeth by William Shakespeare – Read by Nicola Barber

‘Karin Coxswain’ Or ‘Death As She Is Truly Lived’ by Paul Di Filippo – Introduction by Di Filippo, inspired by Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain – Read by Dina Pearlman

The Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal – Introduction by Kowal, inspired by The Wizard Of Oz by L. Frank Baum – Read by Allyson Johnson

Every Fuzzy Beast of the Earth, Every Pink Fowl of the Air by Tad Williams – Introduction by Williams, inspired by the Book of Genesis by anonymous – Read by Marc Vietor

Declaration by James Patrick Kelly – Introduction by Kelly, inspired by The Declaration Of Independence by Thomas Jefferson – Read by Ilyana Kadushin

Posted by Jesse Willis

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