Review of The World Until Yesterday by Jared Diamond

March 31, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

The World Until YesterdayThe World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?
By Jared Diamond; Read by Jay Snyder
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Published: 31 December 2012
ISBN: 9781611761474
[UNABRIDGED] 16 CDs – 19 hours

Themes: / humanity / community / society / history /

Publisher summary:

Most of us take for granted the features of our modern society, from air travel and telecommunications to literacy and obesity. Yet for nearly all of its six million years of existence, human society had none of these things. While the gulf that divides us from our primitive ancestors may seem unbridgeably wide, we can glimpse much of our former lifestyle in those largely traditional societies still or recently in existence. Societies like those of the New Guinea Highlanders remind us that it was only yesterday—in evolutionary time—when everything changed and that we moderns still possess bodies and social practices often better adapted to traditional than to modern conditions.

The World Until Yesterday provides a mesmerizing firsthand picture of the human past as it had been for millions of years—a past that has mostly vanished—and considers what the differences between that past and our present mean for our lives today.

This is Jared Diamond’s most personal book to date, as he draws extensively from his decades of field work in the Pacific islands, as well as evidence from Inuit, Amazonian Indians, Kalahari San people, and others. Diamond doesn’t romanticize traditional societies—after all, we are shocked by some of their practices—but he finds that their solutions to universal human problems such as child rearing, elder care, dispute resolution, risk, and physical fitness have much to teach us. A characteristically provocative, enlightening, and entertaining book, The World Until Yesterday will be essential and delightful reading.

The World Until Yesterday by Jared Diamond is at its heart a consciousness-raising book. It opens our eyes to the way we live, the ways we used to live, and what we now take for granted. The book covers many broad subjects, and although Jared Diamond had to condense each of them to fit them all into one book, there is enough detail to give readers a clearer perspective about what it means to be a human in a community, and there are plenty of great anecdotes too.

The audiobook narration is great. Jay Snyder comes across as personable and interested in what he’s talking about, so it’s easy to stay engaged all the way through. He helped to make the huge spectrum of ideas and information easy to absorb.

Each subject in the book is explored from the context of different societies, ranging from traditional small-scale societies to modern nation-state societies. The subjects covered include the sharing of territory and resources; managing disputes; the benefits and inherent harms of certain justice systems; how we maintain friendships; how we deal with strangers or enemies; how we treat our children and the elderly; what cultural blind-spots we have when it comes to dangers, diseases; varying ideas about nutrition; and how religion has evolved for different purposes in different cultures and eras.

The anecdotes from Jared Diamond’s many experiences living with traditional, small-scale societies range from scary to comical (although of course, we who live in the West are usually the comical ones). The story about the deranged, murdering “sorcerer” who roamed the New Guinea jungle at night gave me the chills. And I cracked up laughing at the story about the New Guinea tribe who could not believe the first white Europeans they ever saw were people and not spirits. The European explorers stayed with them and kept insisting they were just regular humans, but the tribe didn’t believe them until later, when they checked the explorers’ toilet. It had never occurred to me to wonder whether ghosts shit.

Jared Diamond does not romanticize traditional life: he explores what works and what doesn’t in all the different societies. While he is passionate about certain ideas (e.g. the hidden harms in certain child-rearing practices in the West, or the benefits of constructive paranoia), he also tries to remain objective and offers critics’ viewpoints too.

The World Until Yesterday is also a call to action because it not only shows what people in large modern cultures can learn from small traditional societies, it also explains how we might integrate the more beneficial practices into our personal lives (and simultaneously phase out some of the weirder ones).

Overall, this was a fascinating book with loads of insights into what it means to be human as viewed through the lens of other cultures. I think a lot of ideas from this book will stay with me for a long time, and I’m sure I’ll listen to this again at different times of my life when I want a clearer perspective on my community, culture, or even my own behavior as an individual.

Review by Marissa van Uden.

Review of Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell

March 29, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Vampires in the Lemon Grove

Vampires in the Lemon Grove
By Karen Russell; Read by Multiple (see list below)
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: 12 February 2013
ISBN: 9780449013717
[UNABRIDGED] 9 hours, 15 minutes

Themes: / short stories / vampires / veterans / farmers / children / reincarnation / silkworms /

Sample of title story: | MP3 |

Publisher summary:

In the collection’s marvelous title story, two aging vampires in a sun-drenched Italian lemon grove find their hundred-year marriage tested when one of them develops a fear of flying. In “The Seagull Army Descends on Strong Beach, 1979,” a dejected teenager discovers that the universe is communicating with him through talismanic objects left in a seagull’s nest. “Proving Up” and “The Graveless Doll of Eric Mutis”–stories of children left to fend for themselves in dire predicaments–find Russell veering into more sinister territory, and ultimately crossing the line into full-scale horror. In “The New Veterans,” a massage therapist working with a tattooed war veteran discovers she has the power to heal by manipulating the images on his body. In all, these wondrous new pieces display a young writer of superlative originality and invention coming into the full range and scale of her powers.

I had been looking forward to this book coming out, because I loved Karen Russell’s first book of short stories, St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. She is also the author of the much-acclaimed Swamplandia! which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. These stories did not disappoint! I was curious to see if there would be more set in Florida, but these span from Italy to New Jersey, from the plains to Antarctica. And just as I would have expected, the stories are at times startling, amusing, and sad. I will just say a few words about each, but this is a must-read.

Vampires in the Lemon Grove – two ancient vampires try to satiate their desires by eating lemons

Reeling for the Empire – human silkworms, vivid and terrifying.

The Seagull Army Descends on Strong Beach, 1979 – maybe the seagulls are the only ones really paying attention

Proving Up – starts as a struggling farm family story, ends in a … i can’t even…. *shiver*

The Barn at the End of Our Term – dead presidents alive in horses’ bodies
(actual presidents, not the band)… this one made me laugh more than any of the others.

Dougbert Shackleton’s Rules of Antarctic Tailgating – Sometimes you’re the whale, but you’re probably usually the krill.

The New Veterans – PTSD, massage, tattoos, and what is healing, exactly?

The Graveless Doll of Eric Mutis – I couldn’t decide what I thought of this one.  It is either about bullying or children who can turn into other things. Maybe both. Maybe neither.

The audio version is great, because each story has its own reader, really allowing for the differences in voice and feeling.

List of readers:

Vampires in the Lemon Grove read by Arthur Morey
Reeling for the Empire read by Joy Osmanski
The Seagull Army Descends on Strong Beach, 1979 read by Kaleo Griffith
Proving Up read by Jesse Bernstein (his accent is perfect for this story!)
The Barn at the End of Our Term read by Mark Bramhall
Dougbert Shackleton’s Rules of Antarctic Tailgating read by Michael Bybee
The New Veterans read by Romy Rosemont
The Graveless Doll of Eric Mutis read by Robbie Daymond

Posted by Jenny Colvin

Breakfast At Twilight by Philip K. Dick is PUBLIC DOMAIN

March 28, 2013 by · 5 Comments
Filed under: News 

SFFaudio News

Breakfast At Twilight by Philip K. Dick is PUBLIC DOMAIN!

This was not previously known do to copyright fraud on the part of the Philip K. Dick estate.

In the early 1980s a number of Philip K. Dick’s short stories were claimed as a eligible for renewal under the law. But a close comparison between the actual publications in the magazines, and the copyright renewal forms used (which required notation of first publication) has turned up dozens of discrepancies.

Breakfast At Twilight is another of these fraudulent renewals.

Breakfast At Twilight was first published in the July 1954 issue of Amazing Stories. But the Dick estate claimed the story was first published in the July 1955 issue of Amazing Stories. Here is the relevant page Copyright Office renewal document:

RE190631 Page 2 (back) Prominent Author, Progeny, Exhibit Piece, Shell Game, A World Of Talent, James P. Crow, Small Town, Survey Team, Sales Pitch, Time Pawn, Breakfast At Twilight, The Crawlers, Of Withered Apples, Adjustment Team, Meddler

It was not published in that issue, as can be shown HERE (a list detailing the contents of that issue).

As more proof I offer a photograph of the table of contents of from the July 1954 issue of Amazing Stories (it shows the true first publication of Breakfast At Twilight):

Amazing Stories, July 1954 table of contents (includes Breakfast At Twilight by Philip K. Dick)

Because Breakfast At Twilight was not renewed within it’s 28th year it is PUBLIC DOMAIN.

Here is a |PDF| made from a reprint in Fantastic, November 1966. Please note the of the 1954 copyright on that printing too.

An |ETEXT| is also online.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Ace Double D-36 – Conan The Conqueror by Robert E. Howard (aka The Hour Of The Dragon)

March 28, 2013 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: News 

SFFaudio News

ACE Double D-36 - Conan The Conqueror by Robert E. Howard (aka The Hour Of The Dragon)

The only Conan novel written by Robert E. Howard himself is PUBLIC DOMAIN. I first encountered it under it’s ACE Books title, Conan The Conqueror.

Here’s a |CBZ| file scanned from the Ace Double (D-36) featuring The Hour Of The Dragon.

Other etext versions are available HERE.

Posted by Jesse Willis

LibriVox: Jewels Of Gwahlur by Robert E. Howard

March 26, 2013 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Jewels Of Gwahlur by Robert E. Howard - illustration by Joseph Doolin

“Conan did not hesitate, nor did he even glance toward the chest that held the wealth of an epoch. With a quickness that would have shamed the spring of a hungry jaguar, he swooped, grasped the girl’s arm just as her fingers slipped from the smooth stone, and snatched her up on the span with one explosive heave.”


-from Jewels Of Gwahlur by Robert E. Howard

LibriVoxJewels Of Gwahlur
By Robert E. Howard; Read by Phil Chenevert
4 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 2 Hours 6 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox
Published: March 25, 2013
A fantasy novelette featuring a barbarian thief, an army of mercenaries, an abandoned city, a sleeping goddess, and a box of teeth. First published in Weird Tales, March 1935.

Podcast feed: http://librivox.org/rss/7646

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

Jewels Of Gwahlur

Jewels Of Gwahlur - illustration by P. Craig Russell

Jewels Of Gwahlur - illustration by Gregory Manchess

Savage Sword Of Conan - Jewels Of Gwahlur illustrated by Dick Giordano

Jewels Of Gwahlur - illustration by P. Craig Russell

[Thanks also to DaveC]

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #205 – NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRIVALS

March 25, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #205 – Jesse, Tamahome, and Jenny talk about NEW RELEASES and RECENT ARRIVALS.

Talked about on today’s show:
Oz Reimagined, Orson Scott Card, John Joseph Adams, Marissa Vu, The Mad Scientist’s Guide To World Domination, Daniel H. Wilson, Alan Dean Foster, Seanan McGuire, Scott loves lists!!, Microcosmic God by Theodore Sturgeon, the cruel god, about Science Fiction, mad scientists, steampunk, urban fantasy, superheroes, supervillians, Lex Luthor, Infinivox, Steampunk Specs, Cherie Preist, Cat Rambo, Margaret Ronald, Sean McMullen, do stage actors make the best narrators?, themed anthologies, Extinction Point (Book 1) by Paul Anthony Jones, Emily Beresford, Chuck Wendig, Mockingbird, Blackbird, post-apocalyptic novels, Swan Song by Robert McCammon, Six Heirs (The Secret of Ji) by Pierre Grimbert, “Les editions Mnemos”, Bolinda Audio, the distorting effect of podcasts, are audiobooks taking over reading?, Luke Burrage, busy lifestyles, Gone Girl, Beautiful Ruins, archaeologist werewolf vampire oracles, “being a librarian is awesome”, is being a paramedic fun? Or is it full of paperwork?, Bones, forensic anthropology, Kathy Reichs, sorry no time traveling, high fantasy (aka epic fantasy), The Hobbit, The Lord Of The Rings, The Worm Ouroboros, Neil Gaiman, the Neverwhere BBC audio drama, the TV show, the audiobook, Neverwhere as an allegory of homelessness, urban fantasy, Neil Gaiman can do no wrong, “I accept that”, Harry Potter is not high fantasy, Tolkienesque, George R.R. Martin, Harlan Ellison, Deadhouse Gates (A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen) by Steven Erikson, Malazan is hot on GoodReads, Terpkristin, Mongoliad Book 3, Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, Nicole Galland, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey, Copper Moo, comic crossovers, The Beast of Calatrava (A Foreworld SideQuest, Mongoliad) by Mark Teppo, Area 51: The Truth by Bob Mayer, Casey, Zero Dark Thirty, torturefest, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, Among Others by Jo Walton, Between Two Thorns (The Split Worlds #1) by Emma Newman, Cornish accents please, Jumper by Steven Gould, Jumper vs. Looper, Reflex by Steven Gould, The Stars My Destination, teleportation, Impulse by Steven Gould, snowboarding, Sarah vs. Bryce, Angelopolis (Angelology #2) by Danielle Trussoni, Penguin Audio, Fabergé eggs, The Da Vinci Code, nightmare car trips, nightmare cruises, Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, stolkholm syndrome, Seth Grahame-Smith, zombies, Redemption Alley (Jill Kismet Series) by Lilith Saintcrow, The Free Lunch by Spider Robinson, Spider Robinson is the humane hippie Heinleinian, theme park fantasy, the Callahan’s series, fascistic junky pro-war movies are ameliorated by reading Robinson, Heinlein and the sexual revolution, Michael Flynn, Falling Stars (Firestar Saga #4) by Michael Flynn, Footfall, the Russian meteor, what would have happened if it had happened over Ohio, instead of Siberia, Dan Carlin, Neil deGrasse Tyson, suspension of habeas corpus, an external vs an autoimmune threat, Farside by Ben Bova, Stefan Rudnicki, soap opera or space opera?, archaic characters, vintage SF, Jack Williamson, Omni magazine, Aftermath (Supernova Alpha Series #1) by Charles Sheffield, Black Feathers (The Black Dawn #1) by Joseph D’Lacey, Simon Vance, futuristic fantasy?, apocalyptic fantasy?, History Vikings, Jenny is 1/4 viking, Steen Hansen, the quasi historical saga dude, The Tudors, The Borgias, The Thrall’s Tale by Judith Lindbergh, Ireland, Triggers by Robert J. Sawyer, “real science fiction”, technothriller, Red Mars Blues, Morlock Night by K.W. Jeter, Connie Willis, steampunk, Tim Powers, The Age Atomic (sequel to Empire State) by Adam Christopher, Phil Gigante, Seven Wonders, superhero noir, intricately beautiful, The Stainless Steel Rat, Phil Gigante is the new narrator of Galactic Pot-Healer, Julie Davis, Robert Sheckley, suicidal characters, a comedic version of Neuromancer with the Wintermute role being played by Cthulhu, Tor, Imager’s Battalion by L.E. Modesitt, Jr., A Natural History Of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan, Naomi Novik, Trinity Rising by Elspeth Cooper, The Fractal Prince by Hannu Rajaniemi, Finland, Tam books vs. Jenny books, The Hermetic Millennia by John C. Wright, The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman, 500 Essential Cult Books: The Ultimate Guide by Gina McKinnon, 500 Essential Cult Movies: The Ultimate Guide by Jennifer Eiss, Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson, Dreamscape Media, Toronto, conjoined twins, Brown Girl In The Ring, Midnight Robber, mojo vs. voodoo, Karen Lord, Cat Valente style fantasy, The White Woman On The Green Bicycle, Inherit The Stars by James P. Hogan, “a shimmering arpeggio”, Downpour’s new pricing is $12.99 per month, DRM FREE audiobooks are awesome, Identity Theft by Robert J. Sawyer, LibriVox, Gutenberg.org, Robert E. Howard’s Conan, The Devil In Iron by Robert E. Howard, The Hour Of The Dragon by Robert E. Howard, Mark Nelson, Bill Hollweg, what would a Robert J. Sawyer Conan story look like?

A Natural History Of Dragons by Marie Brennan

Posted by Jesse Willis

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