Pursuit by H.P. Lovecraft

June 29, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Today, when I read Eric S. Rabkin H.P. Lovecraft’s Alethia Phrikodes we both agreed it was great and full of Edgar Allan Poe. Then, I mentioned that one of the differences between Poe and Lovecraft’s poetry was the love a woman (Anabelle Lee and The Raven for example). Lovecraft’s poems, I said, unlike most of Poe’s most famous poems, significantly lack women. But Eric pointed out that the loved one is in Lovecraft, but it isn’t a woman – it is the book. And to make his point he read me this sonnet, from the Fungi From Yuggoth sequence:

Pursuit by H.P. Lovecraft

I held the book beneath my coat, at pains
To hide the thing from sight in such a place;
Hurrying through the ancient harbour lanes
With often-turning head and nervous pace.
Dull, furtive windows in old tottering brick
Peered at me oddly as I hastened by,
And thinking what they sheltered, I grew sick
For a redeeming glimpse of clear blue sky.

No one had seen me take the thing-but still
A blank laugh echoes in my whirling head,
And I could guess what nighted worlds of ill
Lurked in that volume I had coveted.
The way grew strange – the walls alike and madding –
And far behind me, unseen feet were padding.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Joyland by Stephen King

June 27, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Joyland by Stephen KingJoyland
By Stephen King; Read by Michael Kelly
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication Date: June 2013
ISBN: 9781442359918
[UNABRIDGED] – 7 discs

Themes: / crime / noir / amusement parks /

Publisher summary:

Set in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973, Joyland tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a carny and confronts the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the ways both will change his life forever. Joyland is a brand-new novel and has never previously been published.

I’d like to think of myself as an experienced Stephen King reader.  I’ve read about 25 of his books, but that’s only about a 3rd of what he’s written.

At first I found myself wondering if I had the author right. I kept waiting for horrible things to happen: evil clowns, monsters, Randall Flagg. You know, a Stephen King book. There are carnies, but no evil clowns.  That’s probably not fair on my part, he has written a variety of things over the years, and not all of it is horror. Still it’s what he’s best known for, and it can be a bit surprising when evil isn’t lurking around every corner.

That isn’t to say this book doesn’t have some spookiness and a sense of the fantastical going on.  Joyland is about a 21 year old college student named Devin Jones, recently ditched by his girlfriend who takes a summer job working at an amusement park in North Carolina called Joyland in the 1970s. One of Joyland’s biggest attractions is the Horror House, said to be haunted by the ghost of a girl who was murdered during the ride a few years past. That sounds more like the Stephen King we all know, right?

During his job interview, he meets the resident “psychic” who gives him a prediction about his future. He’s skeptical, because surely, it’s all just an act for the show, right? What follows is a time that Devin will never forget, and a story I greatly enjoyed. It’s actually quite heart warming in places. It’s really a book about people more than anything.

It’s certainly not one of his scariest books, but it’s one of the best of his I’ve read. It’s certainly more The Shawshank Redemption than It. At only 283 pages/7.5 hours it’s much shorter than Mr. King’s usual fare as well, but I’d definitely recommend it as a quick read.

The book is narrated by Michael Kelly who is probably better known as an actor than as an audiobook reader. This is the first book I’ve listened to with him. Unsurprisingly he speaks in a clear manner, with good inflection. He does a few accents for some of the characters, but not all.

Review by Rob Zak.

Seven of Spectres: The First Hypnogoria Book of Uncanny Tales!

June 27, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

SFFaudio News

Mr Jim Moon, the ghost that haunts the great “Library of Dreams” over on Hypnogoria.com (and the Hypnobobs podcast), has a new Kindle book out – a collection of rare horror delicacies specially picked and catalogued for clever boys and girls like you and me. Here’s the cover – it’s haunted – can you see the hidden skull?
Seven Of Spectres The First Hypnogoria Book Of Uncanny Tales
Here’s the official blurb:

From the Great Library of Dreams, Seven of Spectres: The First Hypnogoria Book of Uncanny Tales! Seven stories of unwelcome returns from the grave masters of the genre such as MR James, WF Harvey and Bram Stoker. Introduced, annotated and illustrated by Mr Jim Moon.

Mr Jim Moon discussed the creation of this collection at the 1 hour 1 minute mark of SFFaudio Podcast #197 HERE.

Stories included:
The Clock by W.F. Harvey
The House Of The Nightmare by Edward Lucas White
The Haunted Dolls’ House by M.R. James
The Tale of a Gas-Light Ghost by Anonymous
Man-size in Marble by E. Nesbit
The Upper Berth by F. Marion Crawford
The Judge’s House by Bram Stoker

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Dead of Winter by Lee Collins

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

SFFaudio Review

Dead of WinterThe Dead of Winter (Cora Oglesby #1)
By Lee Collins; Performed by Kaleo Griffith
Publisher: Angry Robot on Brilliance Audio
[UNABRIDGED] – 11 hours

Themes: / crime / dark fantasy /

Publisher summary:

When the marshal of Leadville, Colorado, comes across a pair of mysterious, bloody deaths out in the badlands, he turns to Cora to find the creature responsible. But if she is to overcome the unnatural tide threatening to consume the small town, Cora must first confront her own tragic past.

Drunk two-dimensional Buffy in the Ole West?  Kind of but not as good, or as interesting.

The best part of this story comes at the opening with the deputy and sheriff investigating a murder scene in a wooded glen.  This section is good writing and it’s unfortunate that Collins dropped the ball after this point.  As soon as we make it into town, the narrative loses steam and barely manages a fizzle beyond this point.  Lee Collins is prone to the overuse of clichéd metaphors, similes, adjectives, and verbs.  Collins seems to handle nouns okay though.  Here’s the thing, Collins has a blocky, predictable, dull-as-paint style of telling a story wrapped up with the failed promise of improvement.  It never gets better than the beginning.

The elements of fantasy are embodied within one windigo and several nondescript vampires with one “big bad” thrown in for good measure.  And before you think I’m attaching the label of “big bad,” I am not.  Yes, Collins actually used that phrase to describe a vampire boss.  Oh and did I mention there’s an English chap who’s rather bookish and knows a lot about the supernatural?  Hmm, wonder where Collins came up with that…  The fantasy in this book seems second rate at best and at worst, they come across as a generic knockoff of Buffy.  Technically there is fantasy in this story.  One might even call it “dark fantasy” if one wasn’t overly concerned with accuracy.  As I’ve said, this is a great commuter candidate but it falls apart if you look at it too close.  If I were going to sum up my feelings about this in two words, they’d be “disappointingly unoriginal.”

Kaleo Griffith as narrator does a good job.  And while I would prefer it if he would back down the level of dramatization, he is a solid reader.  But someone needs to inform him to stop injecting that level of base into his voice when he says the chapter number.  Funny at first and then just creepy bizarre.

This would be a good audiobook for a long commute.  You don’t have to pay much attention to it and if you don’t expect much, maybe it will float your boat… or not.

Posted by Casey Hampton.

Coast To Coast AM: Interviews with Paul Di Filippo, Joe Haldeman, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Larry Niven

June 25, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Coast To Coast AM, a long running overnight U.S. based conspiracy show has aired a nearly three hour long episode featuring interviewing with Paul Di Filippo, Joe Haldeman, Lois McMaster Bujold, Larry Niven.

Niven explains the basic premises behind Ringworld, Protector, The Soft Weapon, The Long Arm Of Gil Hamilton, The Draco Tavern, Lucifer’s Hammer – as well as 1984, The Marching Morons, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. Early on Technovelgy.com gets a shout out too.

Here’s the official description:

Saturday June 22, 2013

John B. Wells welcomed four highly respected science fiction authors: Larry Niven, Joe Haldeman, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Paul Di Filippo. They discussed their respective works, and how sci-fi can help us predict the future.
Host: John B. Wells

[Thanks Eric!]

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Swarm by B. V. Larson

June 25, 2013 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Swarm Swarm (Star Force #1)
By B. V. Larson; Performed by Mark Boyett
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
[UNABRIDGED] – 10 hours

Themes: / aliens / military sci-fi /

Publisher summary:

Earth arms marines with alien technology and builds its first battle fleet! Kyle Riggs is snatched by an alien spacecraft sometime after midnight. The ship is testing everyone it catches and murdering the weak. The good news is that Kyle keeps passing tests and staying alive. The bad news is the aliens who sent this ship are the nicest ones out there…. A novel of military science fiction by bestselling author B. V. Larson, Swarm is the story of Earth’s annexation by an alien empire. Long considered a primitive people on a backwater planet, humanity finds itself in the middle of a war, and faced with extinction.

One of the fundamental challenges of writing fiction is the need to make characters and events believable without making them boring, or retreading the same ground as a dozen authors before you. This is especially difficult in genre fiction, such as military sci-fi, where so many wildly imaginative authors have already gone before. Fortunately, B. V. Larson walks the line between realism and action with near perfect balance. Swarm, the first book in his Star Force series, contains little in the way of truly original science fiction material, but the author assembles these familiar pieces into a fantastic roller coaster of a tale.

Our protagonist is Kyle Riggs, who proves to be one of the most resourceful computer science professors in history. When alien machines invade earth he goes from being a mild-mannered single father, eating popcorn and watching movies with his kids, to a hard-hearted military commander in the course of about two weeks. By the end of the novel he is commanding full battalions of augmented marines, guiding the development of devastating weapons, and fighting toe to toe with robots the size of skyscrapers. It is a testament to the author’s skill at narration that all of these remarkable events happening to a single character only seems odd in retrospect. As the tale unfolds, each of Kyle’s actions and decisions makes sense in the moment, if not in the big picture, painting him as an everyman who is continually pulled into extraordinary circumstances.

The only real problem with Swarm is the nature of the threat that humanity faces. Essentially, the entire planet is placed at the center of a struggle between microscopic robots, which are obviously named Nanos, since they don’t have a name for themselves, and gigantic robots, which are immediately dubbed Macros. It doesn’t take long before the action of the novel descends into the most visceral, mindless sort of fights that we have seen before in countless robots versus humans films. I won’t deny that all of that is fun to read, but I couldn’t help wondering why the Nanos didn’t just build some big robots to blow up the Macros, or the Macros build some macroscopic robots and start turning everything they touched into grey goo. Or why the Nanos didn’t just infest the Macros and take them apart. Or why the Macros didn’t start strip mining the entire planet from beneath the safety of their shields, instead of fighting humanity in the field.

But that’s a debate for another time. It doesn’t matter whether the two strangely, intractably, even inexplicably different robots behave appropriately any more than it matters how an alien can have a silicon-based biology and acid for blood. I suppose we can also overlook, for this book at least, the rapid changes in Kyle’s character, the incredulous, borderline Stockholm Syndrome, relationship between Kyle and his girlfriend Sandra, and the sudden, mildly disappointing ending. What matters is that B. V. Larson uses all of these pieces to tell a fun story. I just hope to see some more character development as the series continues.

The audiobook of Swarm is produced by Audible, published on CD by Brilliance Audio, and as a whole meets the usual quality I expect from these companies. Each disc begins and ends with brief musical backgrounds which, while they do little to enhance the story, are not distracting. The last few sentences, about five to fifteen seconds, of each disc are repeated at the beginning of the next disc, which is a feature I always appreciate to draw me back into the story after pausing to change discs. Mark Boyett’s skillful narration perfectly portrays the voice of Kyle Riggs, whether he is calmly describing the procedures for programming an alien computer, or speaking in a panicked, but still clear, tone to convey the terror of facing an alien machine on the battlefield.

Posted by Andrew Linke

Next Page »