Review of The Diamond of Jeru by Louis L’Amour

July 22, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama 

SFFaudio Review

Audio Drama - Louis L'Amour's The Diamond of JeruThe Diamond of Jeru
By Louis L’Amour; Performed by a Full Cast
3 hours – [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Themes: / Audio Drama / Adventure / Magic / Fantasy / Pulp /

There were times Mike Kardec thought he could feel the magic of this place, a vague sense that just beyond his perception vast but subtle forces were at work… there was power out there, a great organic engine of death and rebirth.

Louis L’Amour (1908 – 1988) is best known for his Western novels, but for a long time I knew him only for a couple of his non-westerns. Last of the Breed (1986) was about a Native American pilot downed in Russia during the Cold War, and The Walking Drum (1984), a historical novel set in the 12th century. Later I read The Lonesome Gods (1983), which, though there were gunfights and horses, I assumed was still one of L’Amour’s atypical works. I enjoyed all of the above, which is why I greeted The Diamond of Jeru with a smile. L’Amour is a fine storyteller.

The Diamond of Jeru is also not a Western. It’s set in Borneo in 1955, where our hero Mike Kardec (played by Joel Bryant) finds himself after the Korean War. He is hired by a Helen and John Lacklan (Traci Dinwiddlie and Time Winters) to guide them deep into the island to find a diamond. There’s a touch of magic in the story, so I’d call it a fantasy adventure.

It’s presented as a “Dramatized Audio”, which I would describe as a rich audio drama with heavy narration. Joe Morton is the narrator, which is terrific because I can’t hear enough of that guy. He was perfect in some of Simon and Schuster’s Star Trek audio titles, and is excellent again here. In fact, all of the actors in this are top notch. This cast is among the highest quality group of actors I’ve ever heard doing audio drama.

On the video page of The Diamond of Jeru Audio Project site, Writer/Director Beau L’Amour and Producer/Editor Paul O’Dell discuss the making of the sound effects. Their methods sound excellent in the final production. I haven’t heard any other titles by this skilled team, but I’d love to hear one in which they rely more on the superb sound than on narration to establish setting and action. The sound had a very deep quality. Nothing out of place here.

The story retained much of the pulp quality of the original story, which was welcome. The website has an audio sample as well as a history of the story, which was written sometime in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s by Louis L’Amour, then revised and expanded to novella length by Beau L’Amour. The original, unedited story can be found |HERE|.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

[audio drama] Review of In the Embers

June 16, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
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SFFaudio Review

Audio Drama - In the EmbersIn the Embers
A Great Northern Audio Theatre Production
Written, Directed, and Produced by Brian Price and Jerry Stearns
[AUDIO DRAMA] – 1 Hour, 19 Minutes
Published: 2015
Themes: / Audio Drama / time / archaeology / jazz / quantum physics /

A song, a pressed flower, and the sound of two girl’s voices recovered from a burned wooden beam by using a laser to read its charred surface like the grooves of an old 78rpm record. These are the clues that archaeologist, Digger Morgan, discovers while working on a routine Maryland plantation dig. Who were the girls? When was the fire? The answers all lead to 1920s jazz pioneer, Kit Jeffers, whose voice mysteriously appears on Digger’s computer, and whose existence remains haunted by a singular tragic event.

The first sounds offered by this wonderful work of audio drama are the broken haunting voices of two people trying to escape a barn fire. I can hear them as I type this. The voices were impressed on charred barn beams until archaeologist Digger Morgan discovered a way to read them with a laser. Hearing those voices was a powerful moment for me, a moment in which I not only felt the emotion of two people trapped in a fire, but also in which I considered the possibility of strong emotion leaving an imprint on our surroundings.

“In the Embers” doesn’t shy away from considering the implications either. In fact, this fine work of science fiction goes even further. How large an imprint could one leave? And could emotion somehow be transmitted through time? What would be the effect?

The story is excellent, the music is excellent, the audio quality is excellent, and so are the actors. Robin Miles as Kit Jeffers was particularly outstanding. From the riveting opening to the emotional closing scene, this is a drama that goes in the permanent collection. I’ll be listening to this again, no question.

“In the Embers” premiered at last weekend’s HEAR Now Festival in Kansas City, and will be broadcast on Sound Affects over two weeks – June 21 and 28.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

[audio drama] Review of Brad Lansky and the Rogue Era

April 29, 2015 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Audio Drama 

SFFaudio Review

Audio Drama - Brad Lansky and the Rogue EraBrad Lansky and the Rogue Era
1 hour 25 minutes – [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Protophonic
Published: 2015
Themes: / Audio Drama / Science Fiction / artificial intelligence / biological life / augmented humans / artificial life / rogue planets /

I’m running out of adjectives to describe Protophonic’s Brad Lansky series of lush science fiction audio drama. The latest episode is Brad Lansky and the Rogue Era, and it’s another gem.

I admire the Brad Lansky series for a couple of reasons. First and most obvious is the sound. This production is a rich soundscape that invites a listener to settle in, eyes closed. Again, J.D. Venne (writer) and Dieter Zimmermann (producer) inspire the listener’s imagination by using aural cues instead of description to provide the setting for the story.

Second, the Brad Lansky stories are genuine hard science fiction. Brad Lansky and the Rogue Era opens with a speech given by Dr. Brinn Diaz, an augmented human. She discusses artificial life (a-life) and biological life (b-life). “B-life has been losing the race since the singularity a millennium ago,” she says. She is both “project and project architect”, having changed her body in various ways, including raising the number of brains on board to three.

Brad Lansky and Dr. Diaz play an important role in an encounter with an invisible world that hurtles toward Earth, threatening to eliminate b-life for good.

I highly recommend this episode and the whole series. It’s great fun and wonderfully rich unique audio.

Enjoy a sample: Brad Lansky and the Rogue Era Trailer

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

[audio drama] The Left Hand of Darkness

April 13, 2015 by · 1 Comment
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SFFaudio Online Audio

Fantasy Audio Drama - The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin - BBC4


Available to stream for the next 29 days at BBC Radio 4 is the first part of a new audio drama adapted from Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1969 novel, The Left Hand of Darkness. Part 2 arrives Saturday!

Also wonderful is a half hour programme called Ursula K. Le Guin at 85: Naomi Alderman talks to leading novelist Ursula Le Guin about her life and work and hears from literary fans including David Mitchell and Neil Gaiman.

Ursula K. Le Guin


Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Brad Lansky and the Alien at Planet X

May 19, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audio Drama - Brad Lansky and the Alien at Planet XBrad Lansky and the Alien at Planet X
(Brad Lansky, Episode 1)
1 hour 16 minutes – [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Protophonic
Published: 2014
Themes: / Audio Drama / Science Fiction / artificial intelligence / Space Travel / cybernetics / aliens /

It’s difficult to believe that Protophonic is ten years old. I know it is because there’s a notice on their website that says so, and, in celebration, they are giving away this remake of the first installment of the Brad Lansky series for free – for a short time. I urge you to go check it out.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. At Protophonic, the sound is the thing. Each track Protophonic produces is a rich soundscape that needs to be enjoyed using a pair of good headphones. I also recommend that you give it your full attention – turn everything off, and let this audio work magic.

As each track starts, the sound sets the scene. More than once, I was surprised by the images in my mind. How easily they appeared in reaction to the sound, and how vivid the scenes were in my imagination. Much to the credit of Protophonic, no time at all is spent in dialogue establishing the setting. Actors never say things like, “My, just look at this blue spaceport!” The rich audio in cooperation with my imagination provided the setting. Indeed, Protophonic has trusted the listener with more than a typical audio drama would, and I found it an exhilarating experience. I enjoy the feeling of collaboration, and I like knowing that my mental picture of this story is sure to be different from another listener’s. It’s also wonderful that the story both depends on and works with whatever the listener brings to the table.

This first Brad Lansky production opens with a Ship AI (called Echolocator) telling co-pilot Dieter Rothman news of a distress call. Dieter and Captain Sandy Larkin meet at the main control console to discuss the situation, and things get tense quickly. Soon after, at Shanghai Spaceport, Brad Lansky and co-pilot Alex John meet with Zara, a life-form scientist, who tells them that Sandy Larkin is missing. Lansky and John immediately start searching. What follows includes alien life, artificial intelligences, cybernetic persons, and space travel.

In short: Brad Lansky and the Alien at Planet X is a very enjoyable work of science fiction, highly recommended for superior audio presentation. This is a remake of the first installment, and there are currently four other episodes to enjoy. The last two (episodes 4 and 5) are winners of the Mark Time Award for Best Science Fiction Audio Production of the Year.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

New RRCA Audio Drama: Richmond Smokes a Joint

March 26, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama 

SFFaudio News

Science Fiction Audio Drama - Richmond Smokes a JointA new release from Angelo Panetta and the good folks at the Radio Repertory Company of America!

If you like your action with a hint of humor and a soupçon of sex, then “Richmond Smokes a Joint” will make you stand up and cheer. Bursting forth from the popular “Anne Manx” series, that felonious firebrand, Jean Richmond (Patricia Tallman, “Babylon 5″, “Night of the Living Dead 1990″) is back, and taking the spotlight in her own cosmically wild adventure!

L. Sid Knee (Kris Holden-Ried, “The Tudors”, “Lost Girl”) has a secret. He knows the location of the mythical Sacred Plate of Marange. When he approaches Richmond’s ne’er-do-well boyfriend Herm (Jerry Robbins, “Powder River”, “Beacon Hill”) about obtaining the plate, the treacherous trio take-off on an intergalactic free-for-all filled with colorful crewmen, mysterious murders, dangerous double-crosses, and mommy talk.

Through its memorable characters, immersive sound design, and an original score, “Richmond Smokes a Joint” zips you from a secret safe to the caverns of Marange… where not even Richmond’s considerable wiles and cunning might be enough to make her come out alive and on top. So, strap yourself in for a dizzying science-fiction adventure so clever, even the title itself is a double entendre!

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

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