After talking about it on the last SFFaudio Podcast NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRIVALS episode, I decided we really needed to know exactly which classic stories were being ripped-off in the new Audible Frontiers collection entitled Rip-Off!.
I’ve also made a note of the narrator for each story. And, while I’m at it I should tell you that nearly every story is an hour long. Every story with the exception of James Patrick Kelly’s (which runs about 90 minutes) and Tad Williams’ (which runs just over 26 minutes).
Edited by Gardner Dozois; Read by various readers
Audible Download – Approx. 12 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audible Frontiers
Published: December 18, 2012
In Rip-Off!, 13 of today’s best and most honored writers of speculative fiction face a challenge even they would be hard-pressed to conceive: Pick your favorite opening line from a classic piece of fiction (or even non-fiction) – then use it as the first sentence of an entirely original short story. In the world of Rip-Off!, Call me Ishmael introduces a tough-as-nails private eye – who carries a harpoon; The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz inspires the tale of an aging female astronaut who’s being treated by a doctor named Dorothy Gale; and Huckleberry Finn leads to a wild ride with a foul-mouthed riverboat captain who plies the waters of Hell. Once you listen to Rip-Off! you’ll agree: If Shakespeare or Dickens were alive today, they’d be ripping off the authors in this great collection. As a bonus, the authors introduce their stories, explaining what they ripped-off – and why. Rip-Off! was produced in partnership with SFWA – Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. Gardner Dozois served as project editor.
Annotated table of contents:
Introduction by John Scalzi, read by Scalzi
Fireborn by Robert Charles Wilson – Introduction by Wilson, inspired by a “Rootabaga” story by Carl Sandburg – Read by Khristine Hvam
The Evening Line by Mike Resnick – Introduction by Resnick, inspired by Pride And Prejudice by – Read by L.J. Ganser
No Decent Patrimony by Elizabeth Bear – Introduction by Bear, inspired by Edward II by Christopher Marlowe – Read by Scott Brick
The Big Whale by Allen M. Steele – Introduction by Steele, inspired by Moby Dick by Herman Melville – Read by Christian Rummell
Begone by Daryl Gregory – Introduction by Gregory, inspired by David Copperfield by Charles Dickens – Read by Jonathan Davis
The Red Menace by Lavie Tidhar – Introduction by Tidhar, inspired by The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx – Read by Stefan Rudnicki
Muse Of Fire by John Scalzi – Introduction by Scalzi, inspired by Henry V by William Shakespeare – Read by Wil Wheaton
Writer’s Block by Nancy Kress – Introduction by Kress, inspired by Paul Clifford by Edward Bulwer-Lytton – Read by David Marantz
Highland Reel by Jack Campbell – Introduction by Campbell, inspired by Macbeth by William Shakespeare – Read by Nicola Barber
‘Karin Coxswain’ Or ‘Death As She Is Truly Lived’ by Paul Di Filippo – Introduction by Di Filippo, inspired by Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain – Read by Dina Pearlman
The Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal – Introduction by Kowal, inspired by The Wizard Of Oz by L. Frank Baum – Read by Allyson Johnson
Every Fuzzy Beast of the Earth, Every Pink Fowl of the Air by Tad Williams – Introduction by Williams, inspired by the Book of Genesis by anonymous – Read by Marc Vietor
Declaration by James Patrick Kelly – Introduction by Kelly, inspired by The Declaration Of Independence by Thomas Jefferson – Read by Ilyana Kadushin
Posted by Jesse Willis
As you might be able to tell from the diverse yet vague range of themes listed above, 14 is a difficult book to classify or review. Much like The Matrix, you can’t really be told what 14 is; you simply have to experience it for yourself. The blurb–or perhaps the term log line would be more appropriate–reads:
There are some odd things about Nate’s new apartment. Of course, he has other things on his mind. He hates his job. He has no money in the bank. No girlfriend. No plans for the future. So while his new home isn’t perfect, it’s livable. The rent is low, the property managers are friendly, and the odd little mysteries don’t nag at him too much. At least, not until he meets Mandy, his neighbor across the hall, and notices something unusual about her apartment. And Xela’s apartment. And Tim’s. And Veek’s. Because every room in this old Los Angeles brownstone has a mystery or two. Mysteries that stretch back over a hundred years. Some of them are in plain sight. Some are behind locked doors. And all together these mysteries could mean the end of Nate and his friends. Or the end of everything….
Aside from giving off a subtle Stephen King vibe, this synopsis doesn’t much help categorize the book either. And yet, in precisely the way book cover pitches are supposed to do, it offers just enough tantalizing hints to draw you in. If I had to pick a single overriding genre for the novel, I would choose mystery. There are indeed some strange goings-on in the Kavach Building, which houses the novel’s motley assortment of tenanets as well as the eponymous apartment number 14. Some of these things are creepy, hence the horror; some are paranormal, hence the science fiction. But ever driving the plot forward is protagonist Nate Tucker’s desire to get to the bottom of it all. The mystery theme is underscored by repeated, almost overdone, references to Scooby Doo. But in terms of literary and historical allusions Scooby and Shaggy are kept good company by the likes of Nikola Tesla and H. P. Lovecraft. Yes, the book is that weird.
What makes it all work and flow so smoothly is Clines’s knack for characterization. The listless protagonist Nate Tucker, the artist Xela with nudist tendencies, the Hindi hacker Veek, the hardcore Christian Andy, and virtually every other character, major or minor, are people whose stories are minor mysteries in their own right. When, pardon my French, shit gets weird, you’re always anchored by this (mostly) likable ensemble. Clines’s writing is also excellent. His background in Hollywood is evident in the novel’s setting and characters, and the third-person narration is likewise cinematic in pacing. It would be easy to see 14 adapted into a movie or, preferably, a miniseries. The novel excels, as a good mystery should, in dropping tantalizing plot hints, only to cut away to more chapters on characterization, spurring the reader to read on and find out what happens next. In the hands of less capable writers this technique can feel like a cheap trick, but fortunately Clines doesn’t overdo it.
The diverse cast of characters poses a potential challenge for narrator Ray Porter, from the feminine cadence of Veek’s Indian accent to the clipped, harried German accent of Oskar the building manager. Fortunately, Porter is mostly up to the task. He handles these characters, as well as a broad range of accents from our own continent, nearly flawlessly. With a few exceptions near the end, his narration manages to feel unobtrusive, almost as if there were no narrator at all and the listener is simply telepathically absorbing the words from the page. I don’t believe I’ve listened to Ray Porter’s work before, but I’ll certainly watch for him from now on.
The book puts a neat little bow on most mysteries, but there are still a few loose tendrils that could serve as springboards for another novel in the same universe. It really was difficult to say goodbye to the characters and the world. In his review for Fantasy Book Critic, Mihir Wanchoo draws several apt comparisons between 14 and the television series Lost. The resemblance is indeed strong. If you enjoy strong characterization and a whirlwind of genre-bending mysteries, you’ll probably love the hell out of 14. And–sorry J.J. Abrams et al.–Peter Clines actually knew where the plot was going.
Posted by Seth
Filed under: New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals
The SFFaudio Podcast #177 – Jesse, Tamahome, Jenny, talk about the latest NEW RELEASES and RECENT ARRIVALS in audiobooks and paperbooks.
Talked about on today’s show:
Jenny’s beagle Bailey loves audiobooks, breed vs. brand, “Space Drama”, The Prankster by James Polster (from Brilliance Audio), stranded on Earth, novellas, Luke Daniels is everywhere, Space Cadet by Robert A. Heinlein, Between Planets by Robert A. Heinlein (Full Cast Audio), Ace Tachyon (aka Abner Senries), Methuselah’s Children by Robert A. Heinlein, immortality, Universe by Robert A. Heinlein, “Future History”, 1941, “the guy with the two heads”, Lazarus Long, The Notebooks Of Lazurus Long, kilted spacemen, Fate of Worlds: Return from the Ringworld by Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner (Blackstone Audio), Ringworld, “big dumb object” (and the blog of the same name), space elevator, Energized by Edward M. Lerner, a NASA engineer is the main character!, Grover Gardner, terpkristin, geopolitical intrigue, hard SF, Larry Niven and Gregory Benford “bowl-world?”, Dyson’s sphere, library of congress subject headings, Dewey Decimal Classification, Grover Cleveland, a librarian’s license, are librarians born or trained?, “on the square and on the level”, Trucker Ghost Stories edited by Annie Wilder (Macmillan Audio), Tavia Gilbert, Peter Ganim, 21st Century Dead: A Zombie Anthology edited by Christopher Golden (Blackstone Audio), Simon R. Green, Ken Bruen, Daniel H. Wilson, Brian Keene, zombies are taking over, The Walking Dead (comic), Locke & Key, Joe Hill, Stephen King, “gears and robots” or “steamy robots”, Clockwork Angels: The Novel by Kevin J. Anderson, Neil Peart (of Rush), steampunk, steampunk music?, The Steampunk Bible edited by Jeff Vandermeer, Mr Jupitus In The Age Of Steampunk, maker stuff with tophats, is there a good steampunk book to wow Tam?, Murdoch Mysteries, Tesla vs Edison, steampunky, 1950s kitchen appliances, golden age SF, Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, Sword & Laser, VN by Madeline Ashby, Von Neumann machine, “she stopped being able to not harm humans”, gynoid vs. android, a girlnoid, guynoid vs. gynoid, Angry Robot, Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross |READ OUR REVIEW|, Exhalation by Ted Chiang, non-human main characters, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, post-apocalyptic Hawaii, “a hard entry point”, The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime, fantastical, “fantasy noir”, “a noir cannot be series”, “investigative fantasy” or “hardboiled fantasy?”, darker than you think by Jack Williamson (Blackstone Audio), Jim Meskimen, embroiled in hardboiled?, The Humanoids, With Folded Hands, setee vs. seetee, Technomancer (Unspeakable Things: Book 1) by B.V. Larson (Brilliance Audio), space-kilt!, Red Planet by Robert A. Heinlein, naked on a frozen planet, Saint City Sinners by Lilith Saintcrow, Tanya Eby, Battle Royale by Koushun Takami, Morning Glories (comic), Midnight (Nightingale Trilogy: #2) by Stephen Leather, Ralph Lister, “supernatural noir”, hardboiled vs. noir, Philip Marlowe is hardboiled (perhaps with noir elements), Kiss Me Deadly by Mickey Spillane, noir as a visual vs. noir as a story, Hamlet, noir stories don’t need detectives (and usually don’t have them), femme fatale, James M. Cain, Body Heat, Chinatown, “it’s chinatown Jake” = things are so fucked up you should walk away, “kitty kat”, “fantasy adventure”, Wake of the Bloody Angel: An Eddie LaCrosse Novel by Alex Bledsoe, pirates!, Stefan Rudnicki, The Hammer And the Blade by Paul S. Kemp, Nick Podehl, Functional Nerds, Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, the trouble with fish-gods, a buddy movie (book), dragons, Sky Dragons (Dragonriders of Pern) by Anne McCaffrey and Todd McCaffrey, Emily Durante, Brilliance Audio, Blood of the Emperor (The Annals of Drakis: Book Three) by Tracy Hickman, Margaret Weis, PKD!, Counter Clock World by Philip K. Dick, Gather Yourselves Together by Philip K. Dick (mainstream PKD) <-published posthumously, Eye In The Sky by Philip K. Dick, Dan John Miller (Brilliance Audio), The Zap Gun by Philip K. Dick (Brilliance Audio) <-an expansion of
The Gun Project Plowshare, Mel Foster, Anthony Boucher liked it, The Man Who Japed by Philip K. Dick (Brilliance Audio), Repent Harlequin Said The Ticktock-man by Harlan Ellison, Dick was a crazy autodidact, didacticism, A World Of Talent and Other Stories (Eloquent Voice), Total Recall (aka We Can Remember It For You Wholesale), public domain Philip K. Dick stories, a strange dedication, Geek’s Guide To The Galaxy, John Joseph Adams, The Reel Stuff edited by Brian Thomsen and Martin H. Greenberg, Mimic by Donald A. Wollheim, the Total Recall remake is terrible and stupid, Inception, are “sci-fi” movies are opera for Americans?, Air Raid by John Varley, Loopers, time travel, many new Stanisław Lem audiobooks are up on Audible.com!, Lem READALONG!, Tam is always “Lemming”, Lemistry: A Celebration of the Work of Stanisław Lem, Eric S. Rabkin, Cyberiad, Luke Burrage’s review of Solaris, Noise: A Novel by Darin Bradley, Chris Patton, dystopias are refreshing, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Spider Robinson, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Jesse is completely wrong, does a lack of engagement with the society in The Hunger Games make it not really SF?, science fictiony vs. Science Fiction, 1984, an ever evolving book of rules about idea fiction, Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens, George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman, The New York Review Of Books, arguing with books, Jenny’s favourite part of the NYRoB, the New York Review Of Books blog, academic writing vs. literary writing, Vanity Fair and Vanity Fair online, Simon Prebble has captured Chrisopher Hitchen’s voice, Jo Walton, the Booker Prize longlist, Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel (historical fiction), history, I, Claudius by Robert Graves, fictionalized history vs. historical fiction, Luke Burrage’s review of Wool by Hugh Howey, Jenny makes friends with all the authors.
Posted by Jesse Willis
The Summer Isles
By Ian R. MacLeod; Read by Steve Hodson
Audible Download – Approx. 13 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audible Frontiers
Themes: / Alternative History / Dystopia / History / Fascism / Homosexuality /
I have always been intrigued by alternative histories. Unfortunately my knowledge of history sometimes limits my enjoyment, being more of an overview of the subject. I often can’t tell if an event has been changed, and if so, whether it is significant or not. In some of the better alternate histories you can get away with not knowing too much about the period and still enjoy the story. Thankfully, in this case, I had recently been reading a history of Europe covering the same period from the early 1910′s to 1940.
MacLeod’s The Summer Isles is set primarily in a 1940 where Great Britain lost The Great War in 1918. America doesn’t enter the war and France makes an appeasement with Kaiser Wilhelm II’s Germany. The result is that Britain, not Germany, is left in a state of shock, feeling betrayed by their supposed allies. A young soldier, John Arthur, rises to power in the bleak years that follow, suggesting a parallel to Hitler, who gets only a single reference, never having the opportunities to gain power that losing the war afforded. The great Empire that was Britain is stripped away in the reparations following the war. That sense of betrayal is used to fuel Arthur’s rise to power as he brings in his political movement “Modernism”. John Arthur’s portrait hangs everywhere, even in the men’s public toilets.
Modernism is a very British take on fascism and drove several of the same horrors that Naziism did in our own history. Jews, homosexuals, intellectuals, the Irish and any and all other ‘deviants’ are persecuted and ultimately removed from the new Modernist society. The Jews in particular are sent to be “resettled” on the eponymous Summer Isles.
The story is told by Geoffrey Brook, a secretly homosexual Oxford history Don, who had some prestige for having been a favourite teacher of John Arthur as a child. Brook is in his 60′s in 1940 when he receives the news that he has at terminal lung cancer.
Brook, in trying to reconcile himself with his past, recounts in flashbacks the one true love of his life that he lost in the Great War. More flashbacks fill in the years before and after that war; several of the scenes flowing together with the present day as Brook’s mind drifts in and out of his reminiscences. Particularly when he visits some of the same locations.
MacLeod’s writing is excellent, at times didactic, as the historian narrator recounts past political and social events, yet by turns touching, confused, detailed and frightened as more personal or recent events are recounted. Slow at times, this fits will with the drifting recollections of the narrator as the hidden story is gradually revealed. The final act of the novel moves at a much faster pace, while still holding convincingly onto the character of the narrator. The Summer Isles was nominated for the John C Campbell Memorial Award, the Sidewise Award for Alternate History and the World Fantasy Award.
The audio narration by Steve Hodson fits the character perfectly. The weariness with life, the broken rapture at prized but lost moments of love and of lust are all perfectly portrayed. He even nails virtually all of the Scottish pronunciations; a pet peeve sf mind, being Scottish myself, with several other narrators.
Posted by Paul [W] Campbell
The SFFaudio Podcast #135 – Scott, Jesse, Tamahome, and Jenny talk about recently arrived audiobooks, new releases and more.
Talked about on today’s show:
The Year’s Top Short SF Novels edited by Allan Kaster, including “Return to Titan” by Stephen Baxter (set in the Xeelee Sequence), “Jackie’s-Boy” by Steven Popkes, “The Sultan of the Clouds” by Geoffrey A. Landis, “Seven Cities of Gold” by David Moles, “A History of Terraforming” by Robert Reed, “Several Items of Interest” by Rick Wilber, and “Troika” by Alastair Reynolds. Two were finalists for the Hugo Award this year. The Seven Cities of Gold is also a video game!
Immortality, Inc. by Robert Sheckley, narrated by the amazing Bronson Pinchot. Originally published serially as “Time Killer” in Galaxy Science Fiction (1960). Jesse wants to do this as a readalong, but Jenny wants something newer than 1960.
Earth Strike: Star Carrier, Book One by Ian Douglas. Tamahome is a sucker for space, and this is the first of two books that are available in Audible. Scott doesn’t care much for military sci-fi, but didn’t mind Starship Troopers, Ender’s Game, and Forever Peace. What matter is the focus – Scott is looking for a good story, which is hard to find. “Too much science?” Deep Space Nine. “Not all Muslims are fanatic, lieutenant…” Is it too politically correct? Tamahome is a sucker for women who kick ass too, this is right up his alley!
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, also Sputnik Sweetheart, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, A Wild Sheep Chase, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, After Dark. 46 hour commitment for the audio book, originally published as three separate volumes. Jenny can’t stop reading it! Aomame = “green peas.” Publisher says it is a love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, and a dystopia to rival George Orwell. Tamahome heard that Q sounds like “nine” in Japanese. Don’t read too much Murakami in a row! Look for cats and spaghetti.
Five books by Philip K. Dick from Brilliance Audio – The Divine Invasion, Now Wait for Last Year, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, The Simulacra, and Lies, Inc. More details in Dick’s newly published journal, Exegesis. Reading about authors vs. just reading their work. East of Eden on A Good Story is Hard to Find and Steinbeck’s novel journal. Jesse relates more to life in the suburbs. Rewrite of “The Unteleported Man.” Gregg Margarite discussed Exegesis on his podcast – “a lot of work to slog through.”
Lots of collections from Brilliance Audio – Wild Cards edited by George R. R. Martin, Wild Cards II: Aces High edited by George R. R. Martin, Songs of Love and Death edited by George R. R. Martin, and Down These Strange Streets edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. We complained about lack of contents and Brilliance has started including them – thank you! Up next – contents printed on specific discs. George R. R. Martin is spending his time on anthologies because he is not your bitch! Warriors anthology is cross-genre. Someone should make an audio book of Best of the Best edited by Gardner Dozois. Tamahome likes “Trinity” by Nancy Kress, but the print in the book is too tiny for anyone over 40.
Manhattan in Reverse by Peter F. Hamilton. Only available outside of the United States, queue proprietary publisher rant by the SFF Audio crew, in fact Jenny posted a sassy one in her blog. Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct detective novels and a reimagined New York City. Robert E. Howard does a similar thing with countries. Perfectly genetically engineered female cops (Paula Myo from the Commonwealth Saga) end up with personal problems.
Two picks for post-apocalypse fans – Swan Song by Robert McCammon and A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr. Swan Song is highly rated. Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon has been recommended to Scott multiple times. Swan Song reminds Jenny of The Stand with a promise of fantastical elements. Destiny’s Road also comes out December 1. Death and destruction ends in rejoicing!
Angry Robot and Brilliance Audio have published seven novels that Scott previously posted about – Darkness Falling by Peter Crowther, Debris by Jo Anderton, Moxyland by Lauren Beukes, Reality 36 by Guy Haley, Roll: The Nightbound Land by Troy Jamieson, Triumff: Her Majesty’s Hero by Dan Abnett, and Zoo City by Lauren Beukes. Jenny heard Lauren Beukes on Writing Excuses, and Tamahome heard she won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Zoo City. Reality 36 has a pie fetish? Oh PI fetish. Tamahome likes cyberspace but not LARPing, John Anealio wrote an Angry Robot Theme song, What is wild magic? Maybe quail. Angry Robot is doing interesting stuff, also won the World Fantasy Award for professionals in the field this year, and they are doing eBooks the right way.
The Cold Commands by Richard K. Morgan. Jesse will read books out of spite. “Dude! Your homophobia is calling.” “It’s fiction, not you!” From Tamahome’s second tier – Nothing to Lose: The Adventures of Captain Nothing by Steve Vernon. Some confusion which should be cleared up when it is released. Something may have been lost in the translation from the Nova Scotian. Might be like Dark Knight, except for actually being a bad guy. Batman finding his voice, Batman vs. the Clown. The Folded World by Catherynne M. Valente (A Dirge for Prester John #2) – “she writes with the original unicorns.” “That’s probably because she doesn’t actually have a head.” The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break by Steven Sherill. One of the Neil Gaiman Presents titles. “The Minotaur sits on an empty pickle bucket….” Anything like American Gods? Realistic restaurant world portrayal. All Clear by Connie Willis, half of this year’s Hugo Award. Pavane by Keith Roberts is another Neil Gaiman Presents title. Alternate history and steampunk? Other novels of loosely related stories – Kirinyaga by Mike Resnick, Accelerando by Charles Stross, Voyage of the Space Beagle by A. E. van Gogt. Light by M. John Harrison – Tamahome finds it to be “unpleasant” between the masturbating and the killing. Why is this one of Neil Gaiman’s top novels of the last 10 years? Reinvention of space opera, but the end result is hard to take. Stephen King’s newest – 11-22-63. Ring by Stephen Baxter (from the Xeelee Sequence), Baxter even explains why aliens don’t visit in his Manifold Trilogy, which is based on the Fermi paradox. “That’s it! Go to your rooms!” “Everybody out of the pool!” Digital vs. disc, subscription vs. individual purchase, Audible.com sale, Black Friday and Cyber Monday – we are ready for holiday gift giving! Evacuation Day instead of Thanksgiving. Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke, Jo Walton’s Revisiting The Hugos, the SF Masterworks series (from the U.K.), Jenny’s Around The World bookshelf
From Stephen Baxter’s Ring:
Lieserl was suspended inside the body of the Sun.
She spread her arms wide and lifted up her face. She was deep within the Sun’s convective zone, the broad mantle of turbulent material beneath the growing photosphere. Convective cells larger than the Earth, tangled with ropes of magnetic flux, filled the world around her with a complex, dynamic, three-dimensional tapestry. She could hear the roar of the great gas founts, smell the stale photons diffusing out toward space from the remote core.
Posted by Jenny Colvin
The Rise Of Endymion by Dan Simmons
Day By Day Armageddon by J.L. Bourne
The Unincorporated War by Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin
Swords And Deviltry by Fritz Leiber
Fafhrd And The Gray Mouser adapted by Howard Chaykin
The Outfit adapted by Darwyn Cooke
Sense And Sensibility adapted by Nancy Butler
Posted by Jesse Willis