Review of The Empire Striketh Back by Ian Doescher

March 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Empire Striketh BackWilliam Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back
By Ian Doescher; Performed by a full cast (Daniel Davis, Jonathan Davis, Ian Doescher, Jeff Gurner, January LaVoy, Marc Thompson)
Publisher: Random House Audio
Publication Date: 18 March 2014
[UNABRIDGED] – 3 hours, 25 minutes

Themes: / Star Wars / Shakespeare / iambic pentameter / haiku /

Publisher summary:

Hot on the heels of the New York Times bestseller William Shakespeare’s Star Wars comes the next two installments of the original trilogy: William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back and William Shakespeare’s The Jed Doth Return. Return to the star-crossed galaxy far, far away as the brooding young hero, a power-mad emperor, and their jesting droids match wits, struggle for power, and soliloquize in elegant and impeccable iambic pentameter. These two plays offer essential listening for all ages. Something Wookiee this way comes!

Ian Doescher is back with more Shakespearian Star Wars as he progresses through the original trilogy. The Empire Striketh Back is very similar to Shakespeare’s Star Wars with some minor differences. As before, if you like Star Wars and Shakespeare you will probably enjoy this book…especially if you liked the first one. I think this book comes across a bit more silly than the first which is unfortunate because The Empire Strikes Back is the darkest part of the trilogy and some of that emotion is lost due to the silliness. That said, Doescher once again does a fantastic job putting everything into iambic pentameter and even mixes things up with some prose and even haiku with different characters.

The Shakespeare/literary side of this book is really well done, almost to the point that I would say this book would be a great device for teaching disinterested kids about Shakespeare without them reading Shakespeare. Doescher is more varied in his use of literary tools and explains a few of the differences in this book from the first in an afterward. I really wish that was at the beginning so I could be on the lookout for Boba Fett’s use of prose (I noticed that), Yoda speaking in haiku (I didn’t notice that), and his relying less on the chorus to explain scenes (I noticed this a bit since the characters explained more of what’s happening). The fact that he was able to do the whole book in iambic pentameter (complete with rhyming couplets) and also integrated some haiku is an impressive feat of work. Doescher also makes really good use of soliloquy and aside to explain character motivation for things like the budding relationship between Han and Leia, Lando’s motives, and what R2D2 is thinking at times. This allows him to flesh out things left to physical acting in the movies or description/narration in the novels.

While the book is technically impressive, the writing is approached like Renaissance faire Shakespeare and has a bit of a silliness aspect to it. This works great normally but definitely takes away from the emotion of things happening, especially later in the story (in Cloud City). The main silly aspect that got me was the singing. Shakespeare did have songs in many of his plays but singing ugnaughts and a song from Leia and Chewbacca come across as silly (at least they definitely did in the audiobook). The ugnaughts (picture the pig faced short guys working the incinerator room and carbon freezing chamber of Cloud City) came across like Oompa Loompa’s from the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie. The Leia and Chewbacca song also comes at a time of great loss and just feels out of place. There is other silliness that works well (a discussion of why places like the Death Star and Cloud City need to have large open spaces adjacent to walkways is one) so just consider me overly sensitive with my Empire Strikes Back. ;-)

I really enjoyed this as an audiobook and think it’s the preferred way to experience this telling of the story. The cast does a great job with all impressions and the music and sound effects are some of the best you’ll find in a Star Wars book. I mainly say that because all the sound effects and especially the music have a place that goes along with what’s happening in the story (I’m big into soundtracks and this was a huge factor for me). I have to admit that I was a little sad that it was over so soon because the performance was very enjoyable. I’m definitely looking forward to the conclusion of this Shakespearian trilogy.

Posted by Tom Schreck

Review of River Secrets by Shannon Hale

October 18, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Fantasy Audiobook - River Secrets by Shannon HaleRiver Secrets
By Shannon Hale; Read by Mark Allen Holt and the Full Cast Family
10 Hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Full Cast Audio
Published: 2009
Themes: / Fantasy / War / Kingdoms /

This is the third book in the Bayern series by Shannon Hale. I fell in love with the series when the first book, “The Goose Girl” came out. Each book stands alone, but each also continues the story of the characters in the other books.

This book features Isi and Enna’s friend, Razo. He is selected to join Enna, Finn and a company of Bayern’s Own to travel with the Bayern Ambassador to ensure that the Tiran Assembly votes for peace and not to start another war.

Razo has no idea why he was included, but when he finds a burned body, he knows it is up to him to find out what is going on while keeping the deaths a secret from Tira.

The story is engrossing, entertaining and enchanting. The ending leaves you satisfied and ready to look for the next book. I love Hale’s writing style, her way with words, and I love Full Cast Audio, where every book is unabridged, family-friendly and, as the name states, full cast.

Although this book can be read without the others, I highly recommend starting with “The Goose Girl.” Then read “Enna Burning.” After you finish “River Secrets,” get “Forest born.” All are well worth your time and money. On a scale of one to ten, I give this a nine.

Posted by Charlene Harmon

The SFFaudio Podcast #177 – NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRVIALS

September 10, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe 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.

Ace Double - The Man Who Japed by Philip K. Dick

Posted by Jesse Willis

Recent Arrivals from Full Cast Audio – Heinlein!

August 23, 2012 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Recent Arrivals 

SFFaudio Recent Arrivals

In from the always excellent Full Cast Audio are two classic Heinlein novels!

Science fiction audiobook - Space Cadet by Robert A. Heinlein

Matt Dodson arrives at Space Academy little prepared for the rigorous program he is about to enter. But that’s the point of the academy: to take young men and steep them in a demanding tradition of honor, courage, and sacrifice until they have earned the right to join the Patrol as guardians of the solar peace.

Unfortunately, even the academy’s high power training can’t completely prepare Matt and his friends Tex and Oscar for the harrowing test of both survival and diplomatic skills they will face when a mission goes disastrously wrong.

A classic coming-of-age tale, and one of the most influential books in the history of science fiction, Space Cadet features the compelling mix of wit, action, and a clear vision of the future that are the hallmarks of Heinlein at his best.

For more information, click here!
 
 

Science fiction audiobook - Between Planets by Robert A. Heinlein

When Don Harvey’s parents abruptly summon him from school on Earth to join them on Mars he has no idea he’s about to be plunged into a deadly interplanetary intrigue. But from the moment he begins his journey he finds himself the subject of intense – and possibly deadly – scrutiny.

A riveting coming of age story set against a backdrop of a war between planets, this classic Heinlein novel crackles with action, adventure, politics, wit, and brilliant speculation about the world to come.

For more information, click here!

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

The SFFaudio Podcast #169

July 16, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #169 – Jesse and Luke Burrage (from the Science Fiction Book Review Podcast) talk to audiobook narrator Jonathan Davis.

Talked about on today’s show:
Not the Jonathan Davis of Korn, favourite audiobook narrators, Luke’s real job (juggling), how to become an audiobook narrator (or a professional juggler), acting, theatrical acting, voice over, New York, Testament by John Grisham, Brazil, Portuguese vs. Brazilian Portuguese, Gone For Soldiers by Jeff Shaara, long form narration, Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, urban samurais and Aleutian assassins, binaural recording, The Shadow Of The Torturer by Gene Wolfe, The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi, London, Paris, Iowa City, Thailand, genetic engineering, Japan, accessory dogs, GMO food, graphic sex scenes in mid-juggle, Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis, Zoolander, American Psycho, a 12 page sex scene, Star Wars, Genghis Khan And The Making Of The Modern World by Jack Weatherford, straight readings vs. impersonations, Yoda, Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, Luke re-edits Star Wars, alien languages, Calculating God by Robert J. Sawyer, When Gravity Fails by George Alec Effinger, Ian Mcdonald, North Africa, Egypt, Arab Spring, Bedouin, narration styles, straight narration vs. theatrical performance vs. cinematic narration, Michael Caine, scalpel vs. laser, Mike Resnick’s Starship series, voice based books, Star Trek, David Copperfield, Oliver Sacks, The Watchers by Jon Steele, Kirinyaga, The Scar by Sergey Dyachenko and Marina Dyachenko, Starship: Mutiny, Elinor Huntington, existential resonance, Harry Potter, conspiracy, dystopia, Ray Bradbury, Cool Air by H.P. Lovecraft, Starship: Rebel, no research, just fun, language, audiobooks as a collaboration between an author, a narrator and a listener, Walking Dead by Greg Rucka, espionage, comics, Neil Gaiman, Catch And Release by Lawrence Block, Hex Appeal, Jim Butcher, The Dresden Files, studio time, The Book Of The New Sun, “do your homework”, “suddenly revealed to be a Texan”, an Aleutian Rastafarian, Hiro Protagonist, Minding Tomorrow, revealing voices, American Gods, George Guidall, “the perfect audiobook experience”, Woden (aka Odin aka Mr. Wednesday), The Stand by Stephen King, reading with your ears, preferred narration styles, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin, racism, Dune, Zoo City by Lauren Beukes, Johannesburg, South Africa, fantasy fiction shouldn’t have an American accent, Luke’s SFBRP review of The Scar, House Of Suns by Alastair Reynolds, an Arkansas accent, inner monologue vs. dialogue, the Sling Blade voice, Casaundra Freeman, audiobook narration is difficult, learning the characters over a series, George R.R. Martin, A.J. Hartley, Act Of Will, Will Power, working with authors, Cyteen by C.J. Cherryh, Book Of The Road, male and female narration, Gabra Zackman, Jonathan is the infodumper, Full Cast Audio, a one man show vs. theatrical collaboration, Scott Brick, Feyd-Rautha, a Jamaican brogue?, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, do you like computer games?, Max Payne 3, Tron, “that’s my neck fat”, Vladamir Lem, Armando Becker.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Commentary: The art of book (and audiobook) arrangement

April 30, 2012 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Commentary 

SFFaudio Commentary

I’ve never understood the appeal of the art of flower arrangement – flowers are pretty, and I guess they’re full of symbolism – but other than that I don’t really get the appeal.

On the other hand, I find that whenever I visit someone’s home I’m immediately off and looking at their bookshelves. To me that’s where the real art of arrangement happens.

I happened to do a little of that myself today.

It started yesterday – when I spotted this perfectly good bookshelf being given away! FREE!

Free Bookshelf!

I snapped it right up, dusted it right off, and found a place for it in my apartment.

My New Bookshelf!

Then I policed up various books, and audiobooks, from various other overflowing shelves and arranged them in a handy and functional order.

Arrangement

They’re all basically grouped by author. Some of the books I’ve had for decades, others are quite new.

Here are a few details:

Blackstone Audio - Robert A. Heinlein Audiobooks

Blackstone Audio - Philip K. Dick Audiobooks

Robert E. Howard books and audiobooks

Top shelf - Robert Silverberg, Guy de Maupassant, Robert A. Heinlein, Mark Twain, Full Cast Audio, Edgar Allan Poe

Posted by Jesse Willis

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