Review of Murray Leinster Collection

May 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
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SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audiobook - Murray Leinster CollectionThe Murray Leinster Collection
By Murray Leinster; Read by Jim Roberts and Ran Alan Ricard
13 Hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Speculative!, Brilliance Audio
Published: 2013
Themes: / Science Fiction / space pirates / aliens /

Contains: “The Pirates of Ersatz” / “The Aliens” / “Operation Terror”

This is a really wonderful selection that represents the many facets of Murray Leinster’s work. There’s a little comedy, a little straight adventure, and tale of terror.

The Pirates of Ersatz: Bron Hodon’s homeworld has one occupation – space piracy. His dream, naturally, is to be an electrical engineer. Whether he tries to ply his trade on a sophisticated world or a barbarian one, no one seems interested in engineers. He winds up bouncing from one problem (and adventure) to another, leaning on advice that his grandfather, a sage space pirate, gave him long ago. This is a great example of Leinster’s trademark tongue-in-cheek humor.

The Aliens: This is a much shorter story than the other two. It tells of humanity’s first contact with an alien race. Evidence of The Plumies has been found on distant planets but humans have never seen one. When the two races finally meet, amidst disaster in space, will it be war or peace?

Operation Terror: A mysterious spacecraft lands in Boulder Lake Colorado. The one report that gets out is of alien creatures. They have a “terror ray” that incapacitates anyone upon whom it is used. Can Lockley and the girl he loves escape and warn the government of what he’s learned?

A common feature for all of these stories is an ingenious hero who notices details, thinks outside the box, and tries to solve problems rather than giving up when the going gets tough. Whether humorous or serious, I really enjoyed each of these tales. They give the reader credit for intelligence and the ability to keep up with the hero, while telling a rattling good yarn. Operation Terror in particular had me on the edge of my seat wondering, along with Lockley, what precisely are these aliens and how can they ever escape?

Unfortunately, the narration in this collection is very uneven. Ran Alan Ricard is brilliant narrating “The Aliens”. I could listen to him read the phone book and be entertained. Unfortunately Jim Roberts, who narrates the other two, longer tales, comes nowhwere near Ricard’s abilities. I am not sure how his reading managed to be both boring and annoying but that is how it struck me. In fact, the combined power of the stories and annoyance of his narration was such that I finally went to LibriVox and downloaded “The Pirates of Ersatz” and “Operation Terror” so I could find out what happened.

I simply can’t recommend this collection due to Roberts’ poor narration. However, I highly recommend you get Murray Leinster’s stories from LibriVox and enjoy them that way.

Posted by Julie D.

The Flying Cuspidors by V.R. Francis

May 23, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
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SFFaudio Online Audio

My friend Julie Hoverson described this story as “Runyonesque” (I had to look it up). Having now heard it I can see why she read it. Julie is an absolute ham for certain quirky American accents and she nails this one beautifully. Of the story itself she said it featured a jazz style band, made up of some suitably jazzy types. The plot, such as it is, is kind of beside the point. It’s a kind of a fish out of water story in which the band, though seemingly born in the future, still finds themselves sounding very much like a set of 1950s characters. Indeed, they find themselves stuck in a Science Fiction future but with 1950s problems.

At the time of publication of The Flying Cuspidors, August 1958, the author, one V.R. Francis, was said to have been a 21 year old Californian, who had “previously appeared in men’s magazines.” But whether that was as a model, or an author, is unfortunately lost to history.

This is the only known story by V.R. Francis

The Flying Cuspidors by V.R. FrancisThe Flying Cuspidors
By V.R. Francis; Read by Julie Hoverson
1 |MP3| – Approx. 23 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Provider: Julie Hoverson
Provided: May 2013
This was love, and what could be done about it? It’s been happening to guys for a long time, now. First published in Fantastic Universe August 1958.

Here’s a |PDF|, and Gutenberg has |ETEXT| versions.

Posted by Jesse Willis

A Coward (aka The Duel) by Guy de Maupassant

May 22, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
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A grave insult. A mater of honor! A duel to the death.

The Public Domain PodcastA Coward (aka The Duel)
By Guy de Maupassant; Read by E (aka Eileen)
1 |MP3| – Approx. 18 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: Public Domain Podcast
Podcast: December 04, 2005
On the nature of free will and cowardice.

Podcast feed:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/ThePublicDomainPodcast

And I’ve formatted a |PDF| version for your reading pleasure.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Sci-Fi Radio Theater: Hyper Nocturnal: A Horror Sci-Fi Radio Play

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

SFFaudio Online Audio

Sci-Fi Radio TheaterSci-Fi Radio Theater has a new show. Part fine popsicle, part bad yogurt it’s called Hyper Nocturnal and it’s “an 8 part hybrid sci-fi/horror radio play.”

I’d describe it as horror meets humor in a Science Fiction setting.

Here’s the first episode in its entirety:

In deep space the crew of a cargo vessel known as the Macedonia must confront an unspeakable evil birthed from the frayed fabric of reality.

And here’s the trailer:

Posted by Jesse Willis

A Martian Odyssey by Stanley G. Weinbaum

May 20, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
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A Martian Odyssey by Stanley G. Weinbaum

A Martian Odyssey is a classic of alien human interaction. Isaac Asimov said of it and of Weinbaum:

“With this single story [A Martian Odyssey], Weinbaum was instantly recognized as the world’s best living science fiction writer, and at once almost every writer in the field tried to imitate him.”

It is also argued that this is the first story to satisfy Astounding editor John W. Campbell’s famous challenge:

“Write me a creature who thinks as well as a man, or better than a man, but not like a man.”

When it was republished, just 4 years later, in Startling Stories, A Martian Odyssey was added to the “Scientifiction Hall Of Fame”:

Scientifiction Hall Of Fame - Editor's Note
And with that that same printing was this extolling editorial explanation:
Stanley G. Weinbaum - Pioneer Of Scientifiction

LibriVoxA Martian Odyssey
By Stanley G. Weinbaum; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 58 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: January 13, 2009
Early in the twenty-first century, nearly twenty years after the invention of atomic power and ten years after the first lunar landing, the four-man crew of the Ares has landed on Mars in the Mare Cimmerium. A week after the landing, Dick Jarvis, the ship’s American chemist, sets out south in an auxiliary rocket to photograph the landscape. Eight hundred miles out, the engine on Jarvis’ rocket gives out, and he crash-lands into one of the Thyle regions. Rather than sit and wait for rescue, Jarvis decides to walk back north to the Ares. First published in Wonder Stories, July 1934.

Here’s an illustrated |PDF| made from the original publication in Wonder Stories.

A Martian Odyssey - illustration by Frank R. Paul

Posted by Jesse Willis

WGBH/PRI: Sound & Spirit: Neil Gaiman talking about Sandman

May 20, 2013 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Sound & SpiritWGBH/PRI’s Sound & Spirit was a music show, by Ellen Kushner.

Now I’m not much for music, and many people think I’m all wet on the subject, but a chance to hear the great Neil Gaiman talking about The Sandman again is worth me doing a little wading.

The Gaiman content begins shortly after the 32 minute mark. There’s also a nice bit of Gilbert & Sullivan near the end. Here’s the official description:

Prophecies, solutions to pressing problems, windows to the soul… Dreams are wellsprings of creativity, a place where our life and the shadowlands meet. Join Ellen Kushner for a conversation with the Sandman graphic novel author Neil Gaiman; and hear music written about or even received in dreams by Alan Hovhaness, David Maslanka (based on work of Carl Jung) and world artists from Hawaii to Australia.

|MP3|

Posted by Jesse Willis

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