The Highwayman by Lord Dunsany (read by Mike Vendetti)

July 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

The Highwayman by Lord Dunsany

I love The Highwayman by Lord Dunsany. It’s a terrific twelve minute tale, a prose poem of career criminals turned beneficent brigands. And my friend Mike Vendetti liked it a whole bunch too, have a listen a listen to his reading of it! |MP3|

Here’s a fully illustrated |PDF|.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

January 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Daughter of Smoke and BoneDaughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1)
By Laini Taylor; Read by Khristine Hvam
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Published: September 2011
ISBN:

Themes: / fantasy / paranormal romance / YA / angels / creatures / seraphim / other worlds / portals / magic / regeneration / flight /

Publisher summary:

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages – not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When one of the strangers – beautiful, haunted Akiva – fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

While YA paranormal romance is not normally my thing (I read this with a book club), I think the author Laini Taylor does a few things that make this book far superior to some of the not-great YA paranormal romance we have been inundated with since Twilight came out.

First of all, the world. The author has chosen Prague as the location for where Karou, the main character, lives. She goes to an art school and lives on her own, but has to trick the school with a fake grandmother.  Prague is mysterious enough on its own, but we soon discover that she uses certain gateways to travel between that city of the 21st century and Elsewhere, to do errands for Brimstone, a creature that helped to raise her.

I saw this picture of Prague at night in the fog in Pinterest, and it pretty much matched what I see in my head as I listen to this book.  There could so easily be magic here.

The storytelling kept me interested, although I was rolling my eyes at some of it – I’m just not the intended audience. I’m not going to swoon over a desperately handsome seraphim in a star-crossed lover type scenario, but I can see how that might be appealing to a slightly younger crowd (honestly, I don’t remember ever quite being that girl, but maybe I was.) I did appreciate some of the details. The description of Madrigal’s dress, little tidbits like Karou being given the gift of knowing a new language on her birthday, the burned handprints that come back in the end, and so on.

Even better, the story takes some interesting twists. The story of Madrigal may be the most interesting part, and it isn’t even introduced until the last fourth of the novel.  It helps that the reader discovers Karou’s story along with her, and she does not yet know her history or all the ramifications for what is happening around her.

I had the audio version of this book from a free download I got last summer when the publisher was trying to promote new books alongside YA classics. Khristine Hvam does a nice job with the accents, although Brimstone sometimes sounded Nigerian, which didn’t fit with how I was hearing his voice in my head. Most of the time, I wasn’t thinking about the reader at all, which to me is a good sign. She also is a great reader of emotion, and captures Karou well.

Posted by Jenny Colvin

LibriVox: The Highwayman by Lord Dunsany (aka The Highwaymen)

October 26, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

The Highwayman by Lord Dunsany

Sometimes titled The Highwayman, sometimes The Highwaymen, Lord Dunsany’s elegant prose poem is an 1,800 word tale about a scabrous gang of bastard highwaymen. And it has something for almost everyone.

I think, despite the sacrilege and desecration in the story, that my Christian friends will like it – it’s got a lot of that redemption stuff they are big on.

I’m confident that fans of capital punishment will like it – because it certainly doesn’t repudiate legalized killing.

And my friend, Gregg Margarite, who didn’t believe in any of the underlying mythology, liked it enough to read it for LibriVox.

And me?

Yep, I like The Highwayman too.

I like the overarching premise, about friendship, I think it’s heartwarming.

Plus it’s got lot of ghoulish shit in it, and I like that stuff too.

Ronald Clyne illustration of The Highwayman (from Famous Fantastic Mysteries, December 1944)

LibriVoxThe Highwayman
By Lord Dunsany; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 12 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: January 13, 2010
First published in 1908.

Here’s a |PDF| made from the publication in Famous Fantastic Mysteries, December, 1944.

And here’s the Sidney H. Sime illustration from the original 1908 publication in The Sword Of Welleran and Other Stories:
The Highwayman - illustration by Sidney H. Sime (1908)

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #118 – READALONG: Upon The Dull Earth by Philip K. Dick

July 25, 2011 by · 16 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #118 – Scott, Jesse and Tamahome talk about Philip K. Dick’s wonderful novelette Upon The Dull Earth (available in Blackstone Audio’s The Selected Stories Of Philip K. Dick Volume 2)

Talked about on today’s show:
Beyond Fantasy Fiction, the prolific Philip K. Dick, Galaxy Magazine, H.L. Gold, is Upon The Dull Earth Fantasy or Science Fiction, suburban romance?, rural romance, Jesse loves the setting, cedars, angels, The Odyssey, On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers, Jesse’s terrible Philip K. Dick impersonation, a wooden faucet?, a one way ladder to another plane, using your coffin as a cocoon, “Rick, I cut myself.”, Rick is responsible for her death, is Rick in hell?, Silvia is a sick chick, shortly after Silvia’s incineration, blood from a New Jersey abattoir, Upon The Dull Earth would be perfect for the A Good Story Is Hard To Find podcast, God has moved on up, HE is capitalized, she’s Fantasy, he’s Science Fiction, she’s elf-like, he’s machine-like, iron and spirits don’t mix, ridding one’s self of civilization, Inferno by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle |READ OUR REVIEW|, uisge beatha mean “the water of life” (or whisky), is Silvia depressed?, YA, valkyries, insects, The Hanging Man had insects too, witch vs. saint, remember Prometheus and the fire?, ripples from the event, kraals of white skinned young women, is this all going on in Rick’s head, Rick picks up a hitchhiker to use him as a guinea pig, “you’re crowding me man”, going into the underworld to get back your dead girlfriend, when someone dies you mourn your loss, Plato (and Aristophanes’) story about the mythological division of male from female (The Symposium), “we were meant to be together”, “you complete me” and similar cliches, what happens at the end?, Fair Game by Philip K. Dick, Philip K. Dick stories often have a roadside cafe scene and a gas station scene, “like the doves in a John Woo movie”, where does the title of Upon The Dull Earth come from?, she was merely playing at death, disturbed spirits thirsty for blood, the natural of order of things has been violated, William Shakespeare’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Act 4, Scene 2, the character name Sylvia comes from the play, but sylvan means “of the wood”, is she a fairy?, HBO’s True Blood, Icarus, the Wikipedia entry for Upon The Dull Earth, the many mentions of clay, Wonder Woman came from clay, Batman: False Faces by Brian K. Vaughn, J. Michael Straczynski, the Golem, Ted Chiang’s Seventy-Two Letters, The Adventures Of Cavalier And Clay by Michael Chabon, capricious (adj.) Given to sudden and unaccountable changes of mood or behavior, religion, Steven H Silver’s review of Seventy-Two Letters (and Stories Of Your Life And Other Stories), FREE TED CHIANG!, Saint Bernadette, Philip K. Dick really cares about the way the story is told, we never see inside a character’s mind, the authorial view, is Dick popular in for movies for this reason?, it’s grotesque!, she filled the Silex, “We’re all going to have wings!”, “We won’t be worms anymore”, Silvia’s looking for an abusive relationship, Blackstone Audio, the audiobook, Upon The Dull Earth is best read aloud, Tama didn’t know how fantastical Dick was, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, its a Noir Horror Science Fiction Fantasy story, anime, Berserk, Project A-Ko, Princess Mononoke, I only understand Japanese movies made by Akira Kurosawa, Rashomon, The Seven Samurai, “I can barely understand the people wearing a Storm Trooper costumes”, Jesse needs some accessible anime, Spirited Away, what are the background assumptions in anime, Cowboy Beebop intro, Luke’s review of Solaris on SFBRP, Erik S. Rabkin, Just Imagine is a crazy musical with plenty of background assumptions (like prohibition), Hey Want To Watch A Movie? podcast, is there an MST3K podcast?, Tam was thinking of the non-podcast Rifftrax.com, readalong vs. watchalong, The Thing, The Thing From Another World, The Thing (2011), Captain America: The First Avenger, The Amazing Spider-Man, comic books vs. Hollywood, The Avengers will be written and directed by Joss Whedon, swastikas are banned in Germany, it’s a case of it’s time to end the podcast.

Upon The Dull Earth by Philip K. Dick - BEYOND FANTASY FICTION #9 (November 1954) illustrations by Rene Vidmer

Upon The Dull Earth by Philip K. Dick - BEYOND FANTASY FICTION #9 (November 1954) illustrations by Rene Vidmer

Upon The Dull Earth by Philip K. Dick - BEYOND FANTASY FICTION #9 (November 1954) illustrations by Rene Vidmer

Upon The Dull Earth by Philip K. Dick - BEYOND FANTASY FICTION #9 (November 1954) illustrations by Rene Vidmer

Posted by Jesse Willis

New Releases: iambik audio’s Science Fiction & Fantasy Collection

May 18, 2011 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: New Releases 

New Releases

Iambik AudiobooksIambik Audiobooks has just released its first Science Fiction & Fantasy Collection! Individual books are $6.99, and you can get the whole collection of nine titles for $43.99.

Use the code “sff-audio-25” and get a 25% discount on your order.

Number one on my to listen list is this classic David Gerrold novel…

IAMBIK AUDIO - The Man Who Folded Himself by David GerroldThe Man Who Folded Himself
By David Gerrold; Read by Charles Bice
MP3 or M4B Download – Approx. 4 Hours 28 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: iambik audio
Published: May 2011
ISBN: 9781926673400
The Man Who Folded Himself, written in 1973 (and reissued by BenBella in 2003) is a classic science fiction novel by award-winning author David Gerrold. This work was nominated for both Hugo and Nebula awards and is considered by some critics to be the finest time travel novel ever written.

IAMBIK AUDIO - An Occupation Of Angels by Lavie TidharAn Occupation Of Angels
By Lavie Tidhar; Read by Elizabeth Klett
MP3 or M4B Download – Approx. 3 Hours 23 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: iambik audio
Published: May 2011
After Archangels materialise over the bloodbaths of WWII, they take up residence in most of the world’s major cities. But what would happen if, more than quarter of a century later, something somehow managed to kill these supreme beings? Killarney knows and, as an agent working for the Bureau, a British agency that’s so secret it doesn’t officially exist, she finds herself embroiled in the consequences as, one by one, the Archangels die. Assigned to trace a missing cryptographer thought to have information on the murders, she travels from England, through France, heading for the frozen wastes of the USSR. But there’s an unknown third party intent on stopping her, and there’s God, who also has an agenda. Not knowing who is friend and who is foe, and with only a brief glimpse of a swastika on angel wings as solid information, Killarney struggles to remain alive long enough to glean sufficient information to put together the pieces of the puzzle and complete what is, without them, an impossible mission.

IAMBIK AUDIO - Ben And The Book Of Prophecies by Kristy RiddifordBen And The Book Of Prophesies
By Kirsty Riddiford; Read by Ruth Golding
MP3 or M4B Download – Approx. 9 Hours 25 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: iambik audio
Published: May 2011
ISBN: 9781926673431
Ben and the Book of Prophecies is the first book of the Prophecies of Ballitor. Ben is the youngest and most successful thief in the royal city of Quadrivium, but an unexpected encounter with Bella, the queen’s mother, changes his life forever. In return for a substantial reward Ben agrees to track down the Book of Prophecies which disappeared from the palace library many years before. It is believed that the Book contains a prophecy which will save the kingdom from an impending war with the rebels. Yet Bella also has an ulterior motive, to find her son who went missing whilst searching for the same book. Ben finds himself catapulted into an unfamiliar world of magic and intrigue where talking eagles and mythical creatures help him on his quest. During his travels he unearths dark secrets as lives are put in peril and an unforeseen reunion surfaces. But not everyone wants the book to be found

IAMBIK AUDIO - Open Your Eyes by Paul JessupOpen Your Eyes
By Paul Jessup; Read by Tadgh Hynes
MP3 or M4B Download – Approx. 3 Hours 23 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: iambik audio
Published: May 2011
ISBN: 9781926673196
Her lover was a supernova who took worlds with him when he died, and as a new world grows within Ekhi, savage lives rage and love on a small ship in the outer reaches of space. A ship with an agenda of its own. Critically acclaimed author of weird fiction Paul Jessup sends puppets to speak and fight for their masters while a linguistic virus eats through the minds of a group of scavengers in Open Your Eyes, a surrealist space opera of haunting beauty and infinite darkness.

IAMBIK AUDIO - Fall From Earth by Matthew JohnsonFall From Earth
By Matthew Johnson; Read by Emma Newman
MP3 or M4B Download – Approx. 9 Hours 3 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: iambik audio
Published: May 2011
ISBN: 9781926673332
Shi Jin is a rebel, the latest in a long line of those who have challenged the Borderless Empire and failed. Dropped with a crew of convicts on an uninhabited planet, Shi Jin – and mankind- encounter alien life forms for the first time. She discovers that she is part of a much bigger game…one that will force her to decide between her desire to defeat the Empire and the future of humanity.

IAMBIK AUDIO - In The Shadow Of Swords by Val GunnIn The Shadow Of Swords
By Val Gunn; Read by Clive Catterall
MP3 or M4B Download – Approx. 10 Hours 15 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: iambik audio
Published: May 2011
ISBN: 9781926673424
When the assassin Ciris Sarn, murders Hiril Altaïr, he unwittingly leaves behind the legendary Books of Promise. They come into the hands of Hiril’s vengeful widow, Marin, and she becomes a target even as she hunts for her husband’s murderer. Meanwhile, Fajeer Dassai, a brutal kingmaker, plots to retrieve the fabled treasure to make himself wealthy beyond imagination. His only obstacle is Pavanan Munif, a capable, but drug-addicted tracker. Soon assassins, sheikhs, spies, and viziers are all embroiled in a potentially world-shattering conspiracy racing to an inevitable showdown where violence and murder is the only path to true redemption.

IAMBIK AUDIO - Space Captain Smith by Toby FrostSpace Captain Smith
By Toby Frost; Read by Clive Catterall (Myrmidon)
MP3 or M4B Download – Approx. 7 Hours 6 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: iambik audio
Published: May 2011
ISBN: 9781926673417
Space Captain Smith is the first book of the Chronicles of Isambard Smith. It’s the 25th Century and the British Space Empire faces the gathering menace of the evil ant-soldiers of the Ghast hive, hell bent on galactic domination and the extermination of all humanoid life forms. Captain Isambard Smith is the square-jawed, courageous and somewhat asinine new commander of the clapped out freighter John Pym, destined to take on the alien threat because nobody else is available. Together with his bold crew- a skull-collecting alien lunatic, an android pilot who is actually a fugitive sex toy and a hamster called Gerald- he must collect new-age herbalist Rhianna Mitchell from the New Francisco orbiter and bring her back to the Empire in safety. Straightforward enough – except the Ghasts want her too and, in addition to a whole fleet of Ghast warships, Smith has to confront void sharks, a universe-weary android assassin and John Gilead, psychopathic naval officer from the fanatically religious Republic of Eden before facing his greatest enemy: a ruthless alien warlord with a very large behind…

IAMBIK AUDIO - The Golden Casket And The Spectres Of Light by Katie PatersonThe Golden Casket And The Specters Of Light
By Katie Paterson; Read by Karen Savage
MP3 or M4B Download – Approx. 8 Hours 44 Minutes Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: iambik audio
Published: May 2011
ISBN: 9781926673448
The Golden Casket And The Specters Of Light is the second book of the Chronicles of Valonia. Three years after Rachel and Gareth’s lives had returned to normal, they are forced to revisit Valonia, after receiving an unsettling phone call. The Golden Casket And The Specters Of Light pursue them back into the heart of danger, this time to face an even greater threat, as they attempt to unravel a mysterious disappearance. The twins find themselves in a race against time beside a trio of evil sorcery.

IAMBIK AUDIO - The Jewels Of Valonia by Katie PatersonThe Jewels Of Valonia
By Katie Paterson; Read by Karen Savage
MP3 or M4B Download – Approx. 7 Hours 43 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: iambik audio
Published: May 2011
ISBN: 9781926673394
The Jewels Of Valonia is the first book of the Chronicles of Valonia. It follows 12-year-old twins, Gareth and Rachel, as they embark on a mystical adventure after travelling to the remote village of Valonia, where everything is far from what it seems. An encounter with a stranger leads them into a world of sorcery and danger. As they pass through the realms of time, the twins realise that their destiny lies within powers that they have yet to understand and control.

IAMBIK AUDIO - Science Fiction And Fantasy Collection No. 1Complete Science-Fiction & Fantasy Collection 1
By various; Read by various
MP3 or M4B Download – Approx. 62 Hours 53 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: iambik audio
Published: May 2011
This collection includes all the titles in Iambik’s first release of Science-Fiction and Fantasy books.

Titles in the collection:
Ben And The Book Of Prophecies by Kirsty Riddiford
Fall From Earth by Matthew Johnson
In The Shadow Of Swords by Val Gunn
The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold
An Occupation Of Angels by Lavie Tidhar
Open Your Eyes by Paul Jessup
Space Captain Smith by Craig Smith
The Jewels of Valonia by Katie Paterson
The Golden Casket And The Spectres Of Light by Katie Paterson

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Edgar Allan Poe Collection, Volumes 9 and 10

June 25, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Horror Audiobook - Deus Et Machina by Edgar Allan PoeDeus Et Machina
By Edgar Allan Poe; Read by Christopher Aruffo
4 CDs – 4.5 Hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Acoustic Learning
Published: 2009
ISBN: 9780980058161
 
 
Horror Audiobook - The Pioneers by Edgar Allan PoeThe Pioneers
By Edgar Allan Poe; Read by Christopher Aruffo
6 CDs – 7.5 Hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Acoustic Learning
Published: 2009
ISBN: 9780980058154
 
 
Themes: / Horror / Science fiction / Travelogue / Angels / Space Travel / Hot Air Balloons / Alchemy /

We don’t know Poe. The mad success of his weird fiction, combined with the myth of his erratic lifestyle, supply more than 90% of what we think we know about Edgar Allan. But was he really erratic, obsessed and disturbed? And even if he was, is that the whole story?

The folks at poeaudio.com are attempting to tell something close to the whole story of Poe with a series called the Edgar Allan Poe Audiobook Collection. In multiple volumes, the greats of the Poe prose oeuvre—your Rue Morgues, your House of Ushers and your Masques of the Red Death—are read with histrionic flair by actor Christopher Aruffo. Here, however, we review volumes 9 (The Pioneers) and 10 (Deus et Machina) which contain lesser-known works.

These two volumes bring out into the fresh air some of the more musty trunks from the attics of Poe’s cobwebbed mind. They will be of thrilling interest to Poe fans and scholars with completest proclivities. For the rest of us, they are of mixed interest. I’ll let you know which tracks are worth a listen.

Vol. 9, The Pioneers gathers together writings about travel. Some pieces are journalistic descriptions of underappreciated natural scenery in the United States; these are of mild interest. “The Journal of Julius Rodman” purports to be the journal of an explorer who became the first white man to cross the Rocky Mountains; this hoax, written by Poe, is a rather dull read to anyone not fooled by its true origin. (And worse, it stands unfinished.)

“The Balloon-Hoax” does a better job of passing its truth-in-labeling test, and describes the crossing of the Atlantic by a famous aeronaut which never happened. (What’s with all these hoaxes? Orson Wells, eat your heart out.) Again, the lack of any suspense on the part of the present-day audience renders this story uncompelling. Better read the history of these two stories than the stories themselves.

The one really interesting work of volume 9 is “The Unparalleled Adventure of Hans Pfaal”, an novella about a balloon ride—no kidding—from the Earth to the Moon. What shocks me is Poe’s attempt here, before the genre had even been invented, to create a work of hard (yes, I mean it, hard) science fiction. He goes to some length to marshal scientific evidence for the possibility of at least some atmosphere in deep space, based on the existence of zodiacal light, the faint glow that Poe assumed was atmospheric haze, but is scattered by space dust in the ecliptic.

This, and other tech-y details, such as the description of the balloon flipping over when the moon’s gravity becomes predominant, reveals Poe’s endearingly quaint attempt at scientific rigor. He seems to understand that his scenario goes too far, however, because he ends with a plot device meant to give him deniability regarding the seriousness of the story. (It’s that hoax thing again!) “Hans Pfaal” is the one work of this volume I strongly recommend.

Vol. 10, Deus et Machina (that’s a pun in the title, not a typo) focuses on metaphysics and technological advances. This latter emphasis is a real eye-opener. It turns out Poe was a tech geek! I would have never guessed–it’s the one big revelation of the audiobook. If he were alive today, he’d be writing articles for Seed Magazine. Poe loves to report especially on the latest in printing techniques, and, oddly enough, street paving. These articles are short, and very revealing of Poe’s psyche. I recommend them.

His big hobby horse is the advantage of wooden streets, which he seems to prefer especially because they make the urban environment quieter. (Here, he is entirely consistent with our myth of him as the high-strung, hyper-sensitive genius.) Discussing the main objection to using wood as paving material—it rots—he takes seriously concerns about unhealthy “miasmas” rising from the decay, yet he reacts with eye-rolling prose to fears that mercury-based preservatives might have any health impact.

The two headliners of this volume, “The Facts in the case of M. Valdemar” and “Von Kempelen and His Discovery,” are diverting but not especially compelling. “Valdemar” is an exploration of mesmerism interacting with what I can only call the death process. It posits a state of suspended animation which was meant to creep us out, but falls flat. Dude: mesmerism is so over. “Von Kempelen” is less original, and no more plausible: a slight account of the discovery of the laboratory of a successful alchemist. Leave these stories to the serious Poe fans.

Least interesting of all are Poe’s metaphysical musings in the form of angelic dialogs. These are some of the most difficult audio narration I’ve ever heard. (Or tried to hear. Multiple listening left me asking myself: what the heck was that about? What did he just say?)

The one gem in this metaphysical manure pile is The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion. It’s is another angel dialog, but it explores a speculative concept that merges apocalypse (in the Biblical, as well as more modern, sense) with science fiction in a way that must have been very advanced in its time. The surprise ending really shocks, and gives a taste of that old Poe horror we know and love. This one has aged very gracefully and is highly recommended.

Posted by the Fredösphere

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