Review of Going Solo by Roald Dahl

January 4, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Going SoloGoing Solo
By Roald Dahl; Narrated by Dan Stevens
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Publication Date: 26 September 2013
[UNABRIDGED] – 4 hours, 38 minutes

Themes: / memoir / World War II / RAF / colonialism / growing up / snakes /

Publisher summary:

Going Solo is the action-packed tale of Roald Dahl’s exploits as a World War II pilot. Learn all about his encounters with the enemy, his worldwide travels, the life-threatening injuries he sustained in a plane accident, and the rest of his sometimes bizarre, often unnerving, and always colorful adventures. Told with the same irresistible appeal that has made Roald Dahl one of the world’s best-loved writers, Going Solo brings you directly into the action and into the mind of this fascinating man.

Going Solo is the gripping autobiographical follow-up to Roald Dahl’s Boy. Whereas Boy tells the story of Dahl’s childhood, this speaks of his time in Africa before the war began, and relays his participation in the RAF. Whereas Boy was an odd concoction of heartwarming sadness that kept me smiling throughout its duration, Going Solo is less amusing and more riveting as we, through Dahl’s eyes, witnessed death.

Dahl doesn’t squander his words. He draws vivid images with powerful verbs and bright adjectives. His sparing prose paints these vignettes so true that we squint for the dust, smell the oily flames, and feel the wind pressing us back.

Dan Stevens narrates this wonderful production from Penguin Audio. Stevens, as he did in Boy, becomes the voice of Roald Dahl. Both this production and the reading of Dan Stevens are beyond improvement. Thank you Penguin Audio, and thank you Dan Stevens.

I’m left feeling a profound sense of wonder. I was constantly forced to remind myself “this is true,” “this is not fiction.” We really do see an African lion carry off the cook’s wife. We really do see the illogical and stubborn face of war. I could go on and on. I could try to tell you how much this book deserves your attention. I could try and relate all the wondrous encounters with snakes or Dahl’s solitary conversation with giraffes. But at this point, you have a good sense as to whether you will or won’t read this. I hope you do. I hope you start with Boy and continue with Going Solo.

This may not be as incredible as Boy, but I don’t believe it’s meant to be. Our childhood is a time separated from adulthood, and should retain a special magic free of weighty responsibility. Oh! And you don’t need me to point out the obvious metaphor in “Going Solo” as it pertains to both flight and life, right? Good, I knew you caught that.

Posted by Casey Hampton.

LibriVox: Naudsonce by H. Beam Piper

November 20, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Here’s part of Phil Chenevert’s introduction to his latest LibriVox narration, a novelette by H.Beam Piper called Naudsonce:

The joint Space Navy-Colonial Office expedition was looking for new planets suitable for colonization; they had been out, now, for four years, which was close to maximum for an exploring expedition. They had entered eleven systems, and made landings on eight planets. Three had been reasonably close to Terra-type but were all disqualified by terrible animals or warlike inhabitants. Now, finally here was an ideal world; their last chance before returning in disgrace. Now the only thing was to get an agreement from the local king or whatever to the colonization. Easy, right? Well first, you’ve got to talk to them …… and there the trouble starts.

Naudsonce by H. Beam Piper - illustrated by Leo Morey

LibriVoxNaudsonce
By H. Beam Piper; Read by Phil Chenevert
5 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 1 Hour 56 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: November 18, 2012
|ETEXT|
First published in Analog, January 1962.

Part 1 |MP3| Part 2 |MP3| Part 3 |MP3| Part 4 |MP3| Part 5 |MP3|

Podcast feed: http://librivox.org/rss/7235

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

Illustrations by Leo Morey:
Naudsonce by H. Beam Piper - illustrated by Leo Morey
Naudsonce by H. Beam Piper - illustrated by Leo Morey
Naudsonce by H. Beam Piper - illustrated by Leo Morey
Naudsonce by H. Beam Piper - illustrated by Leo Morey

[Thanks also to DaveC]

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #187 – READALONG: Tarzan Of The Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs

November 19, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #187 – Jesse, Tamahome, Julie Hoverson, Luke Burrage, and David Stifel talk about the audiobook and podcast of Tarzan Of The Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Talked about on today’s show:
the classic Tarzan yodel, the dum-dum service, Tarzana, California, those beautiful Burroughsian run-on sentences:

“From this primitive function has arisen, unquestionably, all the forms and ceremonials of modern church and state, for through all the countless ages, back beyond the last uttermost ramparts of a dawning humanity our fierce, hairy forebears danced out the rites of the Dum-Dum to the sound of their earthen drums, beneath the bright light of a tropical moon in the depth of a mighty jungle which stands unchanged today as it stood on that long forgotten night in the dim, unthinkable vistas of the long dead past when our first shaggy ancestor swung from a swaying bough and dropped lightly upon the soft turf of the first meeting place.”

A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain (and SFBRP #151), Edgar Allan Poe should be read aloud, The Return Of Tarzan, racism, Esmeralda, Gone With The Wind, minstrel shows, Chicago, Arizona, the mammy archetype, radio drama racism, Jar Jar Binks, Star Wars: Episode III, October 1912, historical dialect, Jane (the white lady), “you just shot a woman in the head”, cannibalism, Conan Tarzan lynches his mother’s killer, rope tricks, out of context vs. in context, Tarzan as a god, Ballantine Books, the dum-dum scholars, Project Gutenberg edition, ERB Incorporated, Tarzan The Censored by Jerry L. Schneider, Tarzan Of The Apes censorship and “improvements” since the original publication, “an English grammar Nazi”, The Heathen by Jack London, taking out or changing a few words can hurt the story, Earnest Hemingway and William Shakespeare are “too wordy”, Tab Cola, Tarzan’s relationship with the cannibal villagers, “mankind and civilization aren’t”, colonialism, the Belgian Congo, King Leopold II, contemplating cannibalism, “the white god of the woods”, Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984), Wisconsin, Tarzan’s ape father is driven away by Kerchak (and turned into a museum exhibit), “the Evil village of Scotland”, the sadness that comes with the deaths is powerful, Paul D’Arno, Obi Wan Kenobi, “Tarzan was the blockbuster hit of the twentieth century”, A Princess Of Mars, Ruritania, The Mad King, “complete in one issue”, All-Story, the scanty Science Fiction elements, feral children, Romulus and Remus, Mowgli, Tarzan is a wild child, “this line from a book”, all of Burroughs characters are excellent language learners, when Tarzan writes a note, Lord Of The Jungle (Dynamite Entertainment), the mistaken dual identity, “Jane has massive bosoms”, Green Mansions (starring Rima, The Jungle Girl), Johnny Weissmuller, “the Sheena of South America”, Audrey Hepburn and Anthony Perkins, Psycho, significantly more significant, the primary driver of fiction of this period is character, Nancy Drew, book serials, Rudyard Kipling dissed Burroughs’ writing and grammar, White Fang is kind of like Tarzan Of The Apes, first person vs. third person, you can’t admire the character from afar if the story is told first person, Sherlock Holmes, “that turn towards character is a turn towards the third person omniscient POV”, “that heroic distance” (1910-1950), Raymond Chandler, “I read Chandler”, Tarzan is the only Burroughs series that doesn’t turn to first person narration, John Carter’s character, why is Tarzan such a big character, Tarzan Alive: A Definitive Biography Of Lord Greystoke by Philip José Farmer, Tarzan as a quiet sophisticate, Doc Savage, The Green Odyssey by Philip José Farmer, Farmer is a fan of character, a stranger in a strange land, what ruined Julie for religion, The Mastermind Of Mars (is PUBLIC DOMAIN), “Tur is Tur.”, copyright, copyfight, jungle Tarzan vs. cafe absinthe drinking Tarzan, “the machine”, the Weissmuller Tarzan, where does he get his razor?, “that knife was his father”, “next book please”, Tarzan And His Mate , “lots of wet people”, “skin friendly”, melon-farmer vs. motherfucker, Boy and Cheeta are Hollywood, Scrappy-do, what did Tantor have to say?, Sabor the lioness, “there are no tigers in Africa, Ed”, Crocodile Dundee, Beyond Thirty, The Mucker, yellow peril looking dudes, The Girl From Hollywood, The Man Eater, early road trips, The Land That Time Forgot, The Lost World, the Caspak series, WWI, “sheer headlong adventure”, The Asylum, closing words, “it’s not what you think”, “really really good fun”, baby ape skeleton in the cradle, a classic of writing, a touching story, “and vengeance is his”, serialization in newspapers, cliffhangers, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins,

All-Story, October 1912

Maureen O'Sullivan as Jane in Tarzan And His Mate

Dynamite Entertainment - Lord Of The Jungle

Posted by Jesse Willis

Tony And The Beetles by Philip K. Dick

October 16, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Tony And The Beetles by Philip K. Dick

This 4,712 word story may not be among Philip K. Dick’s best, but it is certainly worth looking at, and hearing!

Tony And The Beetles is a bit unusual too, having an almost juvenile or YA feel to it. Maybe that’s because it’s not nearly as horrific as many of Dick’s fantasy tales – there are some frightening elements, but the general tone is that of an ungroundedness. I see Tony And The Beetles as a kind of historical allegory and I’m not the only one. Phil Chevernet, the narrator who recorded it for LibriVox, wrote “I think [Dick] was commenting on imperialism in the 40s and 50s.” I think he’s right, but I think the comment is somewhat ambiguous, rather depressing, and almost wholly unhopeful. Dick grew up during World War II and little PKD was a very sensitive fellow, kind of like Tony.

Here’s the setup:

Young Tony Rossi has grown up on an alien world. As a child he’s known little else than bubble helmets, pressure suits, and robot pets. His playmates and schoolmates have all been the non-human children of the planet, but around him swirl the forces of history and when news of the ongoing war breaks Tony’s parents don’t seem to hold the same opinions of what it all means.

Tony And The Beetles by Philip K. DickTony And The Beetles
By Philip K. Dick; Read by Phil Chevernet
1 |MP3| – Approx. 34 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: October 16, 2012
A ten-year-old boy grows up fast when history catches up with the human race. First published in Orbit, volume 1 number 2, 1953.

And here’s a |PDF| made from it’s original publication in Orbit.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Lightspeed: The Streets Of Ashkelon by Harry Harrison

October 12, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

“For me, it’s one of those stories that does what SF does so very well, shining a light into those murky places where mundane fiction either will not or can not go: asking difficult questions about the nature of faith, belief and pride (and taking a few well aimed and accurate shots at the nature of colonialism along the way).” – James Lecky

Two Tales And Eight Tomorrows by Harry Harrison - art by Jim Burns

The Streets Of Ashkelon is a terrific tale audiobooked as part of last month’s issue of Lightspeed. Sometimes classified as a horror, often reprinted, it’s a classic SF story that’s in dialogue with James Blish’s A Case Of Conscience. Maria Doria Russell’s The Sparrow could also be considered a part of this long conversation. But unlike either of those novels this fifty year old short story takes the other side, stridently offering a challenge to the authority of faith’s promulgators. It asks an important question:

Ought evangelists and proselytizers have any business promoting their religion to aliens?

This is an SF story in the vein of Star Trek and H.G. Wells, so ought we not to read the innocent aliens as an allegory for something a little closer to home?

Decide for yourself.

Lightspeed MagazineLightspeed – The Streets Of Ashkelon
By Harry Harrison; Read by Paul Boehmer
1 |MP3| – Approx. 49 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: Lightspeed
Podcast: September 2012
First published in New Worlds Science Fiction, #122, September 1962.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Voices In The Dark: The Empire Of The Ants by H.G. Wells

August 6, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Empire Of The Ants by H.G. Wells

Editorial introduction to The Empire Of The Ants by H.G. Wells - from Amazing Stories, August 1926

Empire Of The Ants by H.G. Wells - illustration from Amazing Stories, August 1926 (unsigned)

Voices In The DarkThe Empire Of The Ants
By H.G. Wells; Read by Sean Puckett
1 |MP3| – Approx. 36 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Voices In The Dark
Published: 2005
A Brazilian navy gunboat, sent up the Amazon river to investigate reports of problems inland, discovers that large ants have begun taking over parts of the jungle. Showing signs of intelligence, the insects prove extremely hard to deal with. First published in the Strand Magazine, December 1905.

And here’s a |PDF| made from the publication in Amazing Stories, August 1926.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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