Review of Change Agent by Daniel Suarez

April 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

PENGUIN AUDIO - Change Agent by Daniel SuarezChange Agent
By Daniel Suarez; Read by Jeff Gurner
Audiobook Download – 14.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Published: Apr 18, 2017

In 2045 Kenneth Durand leads Interpol’s most effective team against genetic crime, hunting down black market labs that perform “vanity edits” on human embryos for a price. These illegal procedures augment embryos in ways that are rapidly accelerating human evolution—preying on human-trafficking victims to experiment and advance their technology.

Executive Summary: Despite a bit of a bumpy start, I think this is my favorite book by Mr. Suarez since Daemon.

Audiobook: Jeff Gurner continues to be a good fit for Daniel Suarez books. He reads well, and does a few voices to add that little extra something to the audiobook. These are exactly the kind of books I think are well suited to doing in audio.

Full Review
I picked up Daemon a few years back on the recommendation of a co-worker. It was kind of remarkable that I hadn’t found it on my own earlier. That book was totally in my wheelhouse. A near-future sci-fi thriller about a computer program gone crazy? Yes please. However unlike many people I found the sequel Freedom™ to just be too over the top for me to read it without constantly rolling my eyes.

In fact, I’ve found most of his work after Daemon just a little too ridiculous at times for me, but always good for a fun quick listen. I’d say this book is no different, except I found myself enjoying this one a lot more by the end than the last few.

Bioengineering seems to be a pretty popular topic for near-future science fiction recently, but I found Mr. Suarez’s take on things to be pretty interesting and unique. I did struggle a bit in the beginning with the whole “Wrongfully accused Fugitive” trope. It felt too generic for me, and I found myself starting to grow bored.

However once things got past the setup, I found that the sci-fi elements that Mr. Suarez added in made his spin on the story unique enough to be quite enjoyable. As with most of his books, things start of in the realm of believability and end up veering into the realm of ridiculousness at times.

I sometimes struggled with Kenneth Durand as a protagonist, but overall I thought his story does a good job of posing interesting questions about how much of who we are is biology vs. our upbringing. The whole nurture vs. nature debate. The book as a whole brings up some interesting ideas of what should be allowed and what should be illegal in terms of biological engineering.

I don’t pretend to have the same level of comprehension about biology and what’s possible in that field as I do in computers, but some parts of the story were just a bit too much for me to not to roll my eyes. I’d be curious to find out if Biology folks will have the same kinds of issues with this book that I had with Freedom™. Maybe they’ll tell me that Mr. Suarez isn’t too ridiculous after all. I sure hope not, because it would be pretty terrifying.

Like all of his books, he takes interesting science, extrapolates on what might be, and uses that to frame an over the top thriller story. It was a fun book, and I’ll be eager to pick up his next book when that comes out as well.

Review by Rob Zak

Reading, Short And Deep #062 – My Last Duchess by Robert Browning

April 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #062

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss My Last Duchess by Robert Browning

Here’s a link to a PDF of the poem.

My Last Duchess was first published in 1842.

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

The SFFaudio Podcast #416 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Far Below by Robert Barbour Johnson

April 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #416 -Jesse, Paul Weimer, Mr Jim Moon, and Bryan Alexander discuss Far Below by Robert Barbour Johnson.

Talked about on today’s show:
Weird Tales, June-July 1939, The Midnight Meat Train, the audio drama from Suspense (Blue Hours), Los Angeles, a truly underground story, how far the infection has spread, like Russian nesting dolls, Pickman’s Model, Pickman’s painting entitled “Subway Accident”, Death Line (1972) (aka Raw Meat), The Terror Of Blue John Gap by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a rabbit warren, movie adaptations, C.H.U.D. (1984), Escape From New York (1981), they’re everywhere, very 80s, atrocious dialogue and logic, an old dodge, John Carpenter, the 59th street bridge, the society of CHUDs, female inmate, a mini-romance, how most people interact with this story, I could barely get through it and I really liked it, weird pacing, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), the camera as observer, Christopher Lee and Donald, “There are monsters in the tunnel inspector!”, a film out of its time, the old boy’s network (is also from Far Below), a mean bully thief sexist, looting the place, two different movies, it somehow works, so garish, quite murky, incredible tunnels in the London Underground, ghost stations, Creep (2004), ghost stories/urban legends, the monsters are descendants of the survivors of a tunnel construction collapse, The Descent (2005), the man aka the cannibal, “mind the doors”, an exploitative horrible monster mess movie, she’s pregnant, keep the community going, a family crypt, a tragedy horror, is Creep (2004) a remake of Raw Meat (aka Death Line)?, where does folklore come from?, a secret medical experiment facility, he’s always preceded by rats, The Graveyard Rats by Henry Kuttner, The Gruesome Book, a race of subterranean beings, a dead body animated by rats, The Gripping Hand and The Mote In God’s Eye, the watchmaker moties, Gremlins (1984), the tendrils out of Lovecraft grow deep, Mimic (1997), Mimic by Donald A. Wollheim, a mad scientist with other responsibilities, giving your right arm, I’m not quite there yet, a reasonable depravity, the Duke Of New York is A#1, a little smoke break, calling forth the CHUDs, we follow Kurt Russell following that guy, Franka Potente looking for George Clooney, empathy for a rapist, it’s all connected, a theme of degeneration in the dark, she’s a bitch, a horrible manipulative person, a nice symmetry, social satire, black humour, this is horrible and great as well, Syria and Russia, this is why the Indians sold Manhattan so cheap, where is The Descent supposed to take place?, they’re albino cave dwellers, Monsters (1990) TV show adaptation of Far Below, The Midnight Meat Train, Clive Barker’s obsession with raw meat, Bradley Cooper, Limitless,
the wrong carriage, butchered bodies, the butcher, the true city fathers, who is the narrator talking to?, you’re going to eat my wife, a choice ending, a deep cut, a new recruit, they weren’t allowed to report on this, a student, a photographer, a vegan, ultra-horror, he’s grain fed!, starting with an image, holding on vs. hanging from, Mahogany, the mythological ferryman, their damnation until they can pass it on, The Books Of Blood by Clive Barker, Dagon (the fanzine), he hadn’t read any Lovecraft at that point, Bryan may have lived Far Below, The Warriors (1979), Death Wish (1974), the Washington, D.C. subway system, Fallout 3, Death Line (Raw Meat) 1972, Escape From New York (1981), C.H.U.D. (1984), sewers, Monsters (1990) TV show, Creep 2004, The Descent (2005), attested by every country in the world and every people, ghouls in the bible?, J.R.R. Tolkien has it, the barrow wights, Edgar Rice Burroughs, white furry monster, the Morlocks, H.G. Wells invented CHUDs (in The Time Machine), The Midnight Meat Train (2008), the vein, going deep, Journey To The Center Of The Earth by Jules Verne, monks are more heavenly, the Wizard Knight worlds, Gene Wolfe, angels, burrowing into mother earth, the long tradition of the earth as maternal, All Quiet On The Western Front, WWI, Château-Thierry, Verdun, bleed France white, “they shall not pass”, the Balrog, delving too deep, a battlefield map, battlefield commander, Vimy Ridge, 12 kilometers of tunnel, Passchendaele (2008), Thompson, the Maxim gun, domestic life, Carl Akeley, taxidermy, big game hunting, apes, killing a leopard with his bare hands, Indiana Jones, The American Museum Of Natural History’s Akeley Hall, Heart Of Darkness, Apocalypse Now, Friedrich Nietzsche on the abyss, ghouls like in Pickman’s Model, hinting, Pickman’s Model is the fictionalized version of Far Below, part simian part canine part mole, Nyarlathotep darkness, The Rats In The Walls, howling blindly, idiot flute players, the dark pharaoh, August Derleth, Cthulhu Water, The Facts In The Case Of Arthur Jermyn And His Family aka The White Ape, it’s not the family, Greek vs. Biblical, the acme of human progress tears itself to bits, national or familial genealogy, the family business, plump Captain Norris, the Morlock connection, staring into the abyss, the hidden race sub-genre, Richard Sharpe Shaver, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, they colonize us, The Mound by Zealia Bishop and H.P. Lovecraft, an inverted high-tech monstrous civilization, let’s see where it goes, less genetic and more philosophical, the description of the funding, NYC Mayor Jimmy Walker, Tammany Hall, childhood power fantasy, for our own safety, you’d understand, carte blanche, you can’t handle the truth, he’s the bad guy, in the warm light of day, taking precautions, the deepness rotting at the core of the Earth, involving the feds, the classic American cop story, NYC police corruption, Prince Of The City with Treat Williams, the War on Terror, At The Mountains Of Madness, Boston subway stations, Bram Stoker, high-tech, nascent technology, The Statement Of Randolph Carter, the telephone, it’s a tasty story, the thing was upon us, out of the darkness, Supernatural Horror In Literature, I learned a lot from Lovecraft, Quiet Please: The Thing On The Fourble Board, they dug too deep!, listen at night in the basement, things that are digging up, Jon Petwee era, Doctor Who: Inferno, Star Trek’s Mirror, Mirror, the Brigadier’s eyepatch and Spock’s beard, evil Captain Archer, green gas causing degeneration, environmentalism, The Green Death another minging story, The Silurians, Call Ghostbusters (1984)!, Edge Of Darkness (1985), Homer, Polyphemus he only sleeps in a cave, neanderthals, and the niter, it grows!

Far Below by Robert Barbour Johnson

Mister Mystery - The Subway Terror

Escape From New York's CRAZIES

Dead Of Night 3 April 1974

Tomb Of Darkness 9 July 1974

Posted by Jesse Willis

Reading, Short And Deep #061 – Plato’s Dream by Voltaire

April 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #061

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss Plato’s Dream by Voltaire

Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.

Plato’s Dream was first published in 1756.

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Dan Dare: The Audio Adventures, Volume One: 1: Voyage To Venus, 2: The Red Moon Mystery, and 3: Marooned On Mercury

April 4, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Big Finish - Dan Dare: The Audio Adventures, Volume OneDan Dare: The Audio Adventures, Volume 1, 1: Voyage To Venus, 2: The Red Moon Mystery, and 3: Marooned On Mercury
Adapted from the Eagle comic strip; Performed by a full cast
3 Episodes – 3 hours, 9 minutes [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Big Finish
Published: January 2017

Three audio adventures based on the Eagle comic strip “Dan Dare” created by Rev. Marcus Morris, adapted and drawn by Frank Hampson.

Dan Dare - 1: Voyage To Venus

Brilliant test pilot, Dan Dare, is chosen to fly the Anastasia – a new experimental
spacecraft – on its maiden voyage to Venus. This isn’t exploration – it is to make first
contact with a mysterious civilisation that has sent technological secrets as a goodwill
gesture. However, what Dan, Digby and Professor Peabody find on Venus isn’t
goodwill, but a terrifyingly intelligent, cold-hearted ruler, the Mekon. A creature
destined to become Dan Dare’s nemesis – and Earth’s greatest threat…

Dan Dare - 2: The Red Moon Mystery

Unable to return to Earth, Dan Dare and the crew of the Anastasia head to the
desolate planet Mars, where Dan’s estranged Uncle Ivor is part of a research team
working on a top-secret archaeological dig; but when they find the base wrecked and
the scientists missing, Dare, Digby and Professor Peabody soon discover that the Red
Planet is not nearly as dead as everyone thought and that Ivor’s expedition has
woken an army of deadly insect-creatures that threaten to swarm and engulf the
Earth… Dare must stop the aliens, but can he really resort to genocide in order to
save the human race?

Dan Dare - 3: Marooned On Mercury

When a distress call summons the crew of the Anastasia to the burning wilderness of
Mercury, they are reunited with their old ally, Sondar. He tells them of the
beleaguered Mercurians who are held in thrall to a cruel new taskmaster – the
Mekon! The exiled Mekon is rallying his forces, plotting a desperate revenge against
his former homeworld of Venus and his hated enemy, Colonel Dan Dare!

It had been quite some time since I’d heard much about Dan Dare, at least twenty or more years until the classic comic character’s adventures were rebooted by ace author Garth Ennis in 2009 for Dynamite Comics. I was glad to hear that B7 Media, those folks responsible for the terrific Blake’s 7 adventures from a few years back have revived the man with the iconic name: Dan Dare.

Taking advantage of the audio drama format, these three new Big Finish Dan Dare adventures are truly terrific entertainment. They’re modern boy’s own-style space adventures, a kind of unapologetically forthright solar space opera, and starring no less a figure than Britain’s most iconic test pilot turned space adventurer, Dan Dare. For those unfamiliar, Dan Dare is one of those lapping-over delights from the end of the British Empire days, an ever just so slightly alien import – like the Rupert Bear books, or Captain Britain, or even Judge Dredd – and as delightful as a tin full of Turkish delight!

It is hard for me to review audio drama the same way I review audiobooks. I listen to audio drama at night with my eyes closed just as I’m drifting off into Dreamland. This means if I want to review them, I must re-listen to the shows over and over in order to get all my facts straight (that I love to is a side benefit). I need to know exactly what’s in the show itself, and what I only dreamed was in the show. And in my nightly re-listening for two weeks, I must say that all three episodes are really terrific – professional – solid work – as good as you would want them to be. Even with three different writing teams for three episodes and the fact that the three shows are mapped to three storylines from the very inception of Dan Dare, there’s very little for me to complain about. If you pushed me, really pushed me for some hard critiques of the shows as a whole I could come up with a few pitiful ones. I’d say, maybe, that the actors for Digby and Dan have voices just a bit too similar to each other, that maybe the personality of Professor Peabody – going from a hard-ass corporate profiteer to a stalwart champion of the undertrodden is a bit quick. But I really cannot complain. I got two wonderful weeks of nightly entertainment from these three episodes; each combining some of the very best elements of some of my favourite adventures into three all new shows. I’m telling you, if you like stories like The Empire Strikes Back, or Metropolis, or DOOM, or Aliens you’ll certainly love these new Dan Dare adventures.

Now, twist my arm just a bit more and I’ll tell you a secret… oh yes, I loved the first and second episodes, but that third episode, with those wonderful sympathetic Mercurians… it is my favourite.

Some fun, fast facts comparing Dan Dare in 1950 and Dan Dare in 2017.
-In the original comic strip Digby was Dan’s batman (his gentleman’s gentleman), not so in 2017.
-In the 2017 audio drama, Dan Dare is a vlogger!
-In 2017, Dan Dare’s dad is in hospital, in what sounds like a coma, and he regularly visits him (as does Digby).
-Professor Peabody was a professor in 1950 and still is a professor in 2017.
-The 2017 Dan Dare is set in the 2040s, the 1950s Dan Dare was set in the 1990s.
-In the 1950 Dan Dare “Eagle” was the name of the magazine where Dan Dare appeared, in 2017 “Eagle” is the name of the corporation that built Dare’s spaceship.
-And, the 2017 Dan Dare uses the medium of audio drama (or radio drama) as part of the plot.

Here’s a video reviewing the history of Dan Dare:

Posted by Jesse Willis

Eagle V1 No1, April 14th, 1950

Commentary: Bill Hollweg, March 5, 1967 – April 1st, 2017

April 3, 2017 by · 5 Comments
Filed under: Audio Drama, Commentary 

SFFaudio Commentary

Bill Hollweg

Jack Ward of the Sonic Society podcast has just informed me of some terrible news (read Jack’s tribute here). Humanity’s friend, Bill Hollweg, of Miles, Texas and BrokenSea Audio Productions, is dead.

I do not know the details of his death, I heard he’d taken his own life, but I do know that whatever he died of it must really have been that his heart was far too big.

To say that Bill was a generous man is to be uncharitable with words. Bill was a champion of that which is best in life, with a voice like a gravel pit and a pen like a sage.

I had far too few meetings with him, and he was a better friend to me than I deserved. I suspect I am not alone in this.

I first found Bill’s work on the web, about a decade ago, and as happens, we soon became, as he put it “amigos.”

His enthusiasm was contagious.

I last heard from in December in a brief comment consisting mostly of an oath to Crom that I “rock” – but the truth is it was Bill who rocked, and I swear it by Crom.

Bill well knew that there was no use in calling on the gods, for they care little for men. They merely laugh and send down dooms, if they even hear. But though Crom is grim and loveless, he gave one boon to Bill, at birth Crom breathed power to strive and create into Bill’s soul.

I, as just one of his chroniclers, do not have the complete picture, but I do know that to live life as Bill did is a goal worthy of any man.

As lovers of the works of Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs how could Bill and I not have become the fastest of friends?

But Bill could surprise me. In one of our last exchanges he told me that he was thinking he needed to “re-read Moby Dick for the zillionth time!” I had, at the time read it only twice.

But truly this is not a tragedy. In fact, it all makes a grim kind of sense. Bill had been a sailor, and like Steve Costigan a fighter. A true veteran, and then a steely warrior, laughing in the face of rent-seeking vampires of cultural suppression. And now, like John Carter, though his body is here, his spirit has left the Earth for more adventurous climes. Call him Ishmael.

Posted by Jesse Willis

« Previous PageNext Page »