Review of Cold Days by Jim Butcher

November 26, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Cold Days by Jim ButcherCold Days: A Novel of the Dresden Files
By Jim Butcher; Read by James Marsters
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Release Date: November 27, 2012
ISBN: 9781611761603
Playing time: 19 hours [UNABRIDGED]

Themes: / fairy / wizard / urban fantasy / near-death /

Publisher summary:
After being murdered by a mystery assailant, navigating his way through the realm between life and death, and being brought back to the mortal world, Harry realizes that maybe death wasn’t all that bad. Because he is no longer Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard. He is now Harry Dresden, Winter Knight to Mab, the Queen of Air and Darkness. After Harry had no choice but to swear his fealty, Mab wasn’t about to let something as petty as death steal away the prize she had sought for so long. And now, her word is his command, no matter what she wants him to do, no matter where she wants him to go, and no matter who she wants him to kill. Of course, it won’t be an ordinary, everyday assassination. Mab wants her newest minion to pull off the impossible: kill an immortal. Beset by enemies new and old, Harry must gather his friends and allies, prevent the annihilation of countless innocents, and find a way out of his eternal subservience before his newfound powers claim the only thing he has left to call his own…His soul.

After a slight departure from normal Dresden Files form in the preceding Ghost Story–owing to Harry’s (near) death and all–Dresden returns to corporeal form in Cold Days. But he can’t expect a warm welcome, even from his closest friends, because he’s now fulfilling his service as Winter Knight to Mab, the fairy Winter Queen. And this novel manages to raise the stakes again, for Harry, for Chicago, for the world. There have been so many Dresden Files novels now they actually fall into categories: there are vampire novels, fairy novels, wizard council novels, undead novels, and so forth. As the series grows there is more and more crossover, but Cold Days easily qualifies as a fairy novel.

I have two equal and opposite reviews in mind for Cold Days, and instead of choosing which to write, I’ll write both.

The first review argues that Cold Days, the fourteenth installment in the Dresden Files, suffers from serious series fatigue. With a few exceptions, it features largely the same cast of characters, the same locales, and the same themes that readers have grown accustomed to. Despite some glimpses of growth, development, and transformation, Harry Dresden is largely the same smart-mouthed, down-on-the-heel practicing wizard he was in Storm Front. His all-too-frequent pop culture references that once seemed amusing now strike a chord of annoyance. The frenetic action sequences that a few novels ago felt exhilarating now come off as trite and paint-by-numbers. In short, the novel makes me feel as if my once solid relationship with The Dresden Files has fallen a bit flat.

Some of the problems present in Cold Days are inherent in the stagnant conventions of urban fantasy as a whole. Except for a few quick jaunts to Edinburgh or Mexico, the entire series has largely taken place in Chicago. While Aristotle’s unity of place might be best practice for a play or even a novel, it certainly doesn’t work for a series of this length. This reader, at any rate, longs to see the heroes face other challenges in far-off lands. Worse, the single, small, isolated locale undermines the severity of the universal threats posed by the series’ villains. It’s difficult to take seriously a dangerous entity bent on world destruction when the only destruction in evidence takes place within a few city blocks.

With all the storylines introduced over the course of thirteen previous novels, it’s inevitable that not all of them can be picked up or carried along in a sequel, nor should they be. However, a pretty major development took place in book 12, Changes, prior to Harry’s apparent death, that is surprisingly absent from Cold Days, even in Harry’s continuous flow of internal monologue. He makes oblique references to it a few times, but I’d hoped that particular surprise would herald a shift in the series rather than merely the plot for a single novel. It is to be hoped that Jim Butcher will pick up this important thread in future novels.

The other review in my head praises Cold Days as a worthy installment to the Dresden Files series. This is largely on account of Jim Butcher’s vigorous writing style and strong characterization. Pop culture reference overload notwithstanding, Butcher’s writing, like a fine oak-aged whiskey, has only improved with age. Though the action sequences as a plot device are overused, there’s no denying they’re well-written. There’s a knock-down drag-out bar fight early in the novel, and you really can feel every shotgun blast and flying bar stool. The witty, flippant language that jaunts through the novel makes the few moments of gravity or pathos all the more powerful. There’s an exchange between Harry and his friend/love interest (to quote Facebook, “it’s complicated”) Karin Murphy that’s poignant and dramatic enough you’d expect to find it in a Scorsese flick.

And while Harry Dresden himself might wear thin at times, the host of supporting characters still haven’t lost their charm and complexity. Harry’s half-brother Thomas, his apprentice Molly, and polka-infused Medical Examiner Butters all make welcome and notable experiences. These characters crackle with life, personality, and possibility. For me, fantasy and science fiction novels, however wonderful their locales and however revolutionary their ideas, are only as strong as their characters. In a series of this length, the importance of characters increases exponentially. And even if some, including the protagonist, rub me the wrong way at times, they’re still characters I know and care about.

So, two equal and opposing reviews–how to break the tie? Simple: will I read the next Dresden Files novel? The answer is a definite yes. I don’t say this lightly. It takes a lot to keep me, and probably most readers, invested in a long-running series, especially in a sub-genre I don’t usually read. (Incidentally, the fact that I don’t often enjoy urban fantasy means you should take my first, negative review with a pinch of salt.) I bowed out of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series after book seven, and I put down Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels after the third installment. Blasphemous as it sounds, I’m even losing patience with George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. Yet through thick and thin I’ve stuck with The Dresden Files for fourteen novels filled with great characters and complex supernatural elements. And I’m eager for a fifteenth.

The audio edition marks the return of James Marsters, best known as Spike from the Buffy the Vampire Series TV series, as narrator. Ghost Story, the previous novel, was narrated by John Glover. I feel sorry for narrators who have to pick up a series mid-stream, like John Lee who stood in for Roy Dotrice in narrating George R. R. Martin’s A Feast for Crows. John Glover performed admirably in his reading of Ghost Story, and if he had read the series from the beginning there would have probably been no cause for complaint. But for the previous twelve novels, James Marsters was Harry Dresden. His dry, sometimes deadpan style perfectly fits the Chicago detective noir tone of the novels. So his return to the series is a welcome breath of fresh air. Also, major props to Marsters for hitting the sustained high notes in the dialogue of the minuscule fairy underlings.

Posted by Seth

The SFFaudio Podcast #184 – NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRIVALS

October 29, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #184 – Jesse, Tamahome, Jenny, talk about the RECENT ARRIVALS in audiobooks.

Talked about on today’s show:
Is it new releases or recent arrivals?, Jenny’s pretty color-coded list, The Year’s Top Short SF Novels 2 edited by Allan Kaster, Angel of Europa by Allen M. Steele (is one of them), ”it’s basic science fiction”, how to pronounce Mary Robinette KowalThe Twelve (Passage #2) by Justin Cronin is literary vampire fiction, Cloud AtlasThe Walking Dead: The Road to Woodbury by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga, “I’m not going to end this story”, “our Scott?”, In the Tall Grass by Stephen King and Joe Hill, read by Stephen Lang, more manly than Stephan Rudnicki?, |READ OUR REVIEW|, “Stephen King has more pull”, Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle is epic science fiction (24 hours), one of Luke’s favorites, (it’s post The Mote in God’s Eye actually), it was a best-seller, Seven Wonders by Adam Christopher, “I follow writers”, Kirkman’s Invincible comic, Breakdown by Katherine Amt Hanna, sounds like Death of Grass, which has a new BBC audiodrama, Embedded by Dan Abnett, he writes Warhammer 40K books, The Diamond Age and Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, “I have both those feelings”, “Luke didn’t like it but everyone else did”, many Mongoliad disks, Jonathan Davis likes us, Tales From the Fire Zone by Jonathan Maberry, Julie’s review of Maberry’s first Joe Ledger bookDownpour.com audiobooks, “she liked them against her will”, Cold Days by Jim Butcher, James Marsters is back narrating, When We Have Wings by Claire Corbett, very Australian accent, “vampires for Christians”, Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig, a female Stephen King character, An Apple for the Creature is monsters in school, Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire, performed by Mary Robinette Kowal, Jesse sees the future, Nightwatch by Sergei Lukyanenko, it’s not in Russian, (Luke wasn’t thrilled), Death Warmed Over by Kevin J. Anderson, zombie p.i., a big stack of Philip K. Dick, The Man Who Japed, The Simulacra, The Crack In Space, Total Recall (We Can Remember It For You Wholesale), We Can Build You, Solar Lottery, The World Jones Made, minimalist covers, Gone by Randy Wayne White, chick that kicks ass, A Murder of Quality and Call For The Dead by John Le Carre, Jesse likes the narrator Michael Jayston, This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz, |READ OUR REVIEW|, Jenny liked his podcast appearance, Jenny loved Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Waging Heavy Peace by Neil Young, read by Keith Carradine who was in the movie Southern ComfortDream More by Dolly Parton, aphorisms at the end, Total Recall (autobiography) by Arnold Schwarzenegger, “how many pushups did he get for that?”, Pumping Iron documentary, Conan The Barbarian movie

lucufer's hammer cover

Posted by Tamahome

Recent Arrivals: Brilliance Audio and Penguin Audio

October 27, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Recent Arrivals 

SFFaudio Recent Arrivals

Posted by Jenny Colvin

The SFFaudio Podcast #123

August 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #123 – Scott, Jesse, Tamahome, Matthew Sanborn Smith (Hairy Mango), and Jenny (Reading Envy) talk about audiobooks, recent arrivals and new releases.

Talked about on today’s show:
Scott’s recent arrivals, The Magician King by Lev Grossman, a gritty Harry Potter?, Ghost Story by Jim Butcher has a new narrator John Glover (not Crispin Glover), Southern Gods by John Hornor Jacobs, the Crossroads film, We’re Alive — A Story Of Survival zombie audiodrama, originally a podcast, The Walking Dead comic, Terry Goodkind’s The Omen Machine, long sentences on the cover, Mango version?, The Keeper Of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen, The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo, the scandanavian thriller genre, Henning Mankell, Jo Nesbø, we make an exception for noir, straight science fiction, Poul Anderson’s Genesis, singularity?, the cover, several Joe Ledger stories (like Patient Zero) by Jonathan Maberry, it’s like evil corporations and terrorism, he adapted The Wolfman (2010) movie, Ghost Road Blues, something for October, Blackstone interview with Maberry and Gardner, two by Abaton Radio Theater, Cat Wife, Baby, radio scripter Arch Oboler, Tam could use a radiodrama, L. Ron Hubbard’s Greed, yellow peril, dramatized kind of like Graphicaudio, Dianetics, Kevin Hearne’s Hexed, they begin with ‘H’, Witchy Woman (song), an adult The Lightning Thief, Lost Voices by Sarah Porter, mermaids, where’s the older mermaids?, sirens, werewolves, Out Of The Waters by David Drake is not military science fiction, the periodic table series, Dead End In Norvelt by Jack Gantos, read by the author, it’s YA, (41:38) Matt tells us about Grant Morrison’s Supergods, it’s a autobiography/comic book history, All-Star Superman comic, narrator John Lee swears well, Grant experimented with everything, Voltaire, does the audio need pictures?, We3, artist Frank Quitely, New X-Men, Dan DiDio on the DC Comics relaunch, Jenny doesn’t read comics (but she reads graphic novels), superheroes don’t stay dead, Criminal comic, the George R.R. Martin effect, The Boys comic satirizes superheroes, (52:18) Jenny is listening to James Joyce’s Ulysses (wow), The Testament Of Jesse Lamb by Jane Rogers, kind of a prequel to Children Of Men, not on audio yet, the Man Booker prize longlist, Ulysses radiodrama, listening for 24 hours in a row, Beyond This Horizon by Robert Heinlein (our next readalong), The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi exclusively on Audible, (one of narrator Scott Brick’s favorites) glossary of terms in The Quantum Thief, made-up terms, The Dervish House by Ian McDonald, fictional thief character Arsène Lupin (oh yeah, Lupin III is an anime), differentiating the voices of characters, how to win a Hugo, Blackstone new releases, The Holloween Tree by Ray Bradbury, animated movie version, Bronson Pinchot is the narrator, Balky, Beverly Hills Cop, Robert Heinlein’s The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag, reddish substance, Hardwired by Walter Jon Williams, it’s the old legit cyberpunk, Nancy Kress’s Beggars In Spain, Ghost In The Wires (non-fiction) by super hacker Kevin Mitnick, Mitnick on Triangulation, (1:09:00) Audible new releases,The Moon Maze Game: A Dream Park Novel by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, it’s about the 80′s, Return To 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea by Barlow and Skidmore, Jules Verne, John Brunner’s Stand On Zanzibar, it’s new-wave-y, paranormal romance filter, Downward To Earth by Robert Silverberg, sounds like John Scalzi’s Fuzzy Nation, T. C. McCarthy’s Germline, McCarthy’s Big Idea on Scalzi, The Mandel Files by Peter F. Hamilton (when’s the audiobook coming?), Noir by Richard Matheson, the upcoming film Real Steel, fighting robots, The Twilight Zone, it’s heart wrenching like the last Harry Potter movie, Wheat Belly (diet book), Jenny’s gluten-free brownies, self-help audiobooks, Eckhart Tolle books, the word “healthy”.


Posted by Tamahome

Recent Arrivals from Penguin Audio

July 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Recent Arrivals 

SFFaudio Recent Arrivals

Fantasy Audiobook - Ghost Story by Jim ButcherGhost Story
By Jim Butcher; Read by John Glover
15 CDs – 18 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Published: 2011

The eagerly awaited new novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling Dresden Files series.

When we last left the mighty wizard detective Harry Dresden, he wasn’t doing well. In fact, he had been murdered by an unknown assassin.

But being dead doesn’t stop him when his friends are in danger. Except now he has nobody, and no magic to help him. And there are also several dark spirits roaming the Chicago shadows who owe Harry some payback of their own.

To save his friends-and his own soul-Harry will have to pull off the ultimate trick without any magic…
 
 
Fantasy Audiobook - The Magician King by Lev GrossmanThe Magician King
By Lev Grossman; Read by Mark Bramhall
13 CDs – 16 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Published: 2011

Return to Fillory in the riveting sequel to The New York Times bestseller and literary phenomenon of 2009–The Magicians.

The Magicians was praised as a triumph by readers and critics of both mainstream and fantasy literature. Now Grossman takes us back to Fillory, where the Brakebills graduates have fled the sorrows of the mundane world, only to face terrifying new challenges.

Quentin and his friends are now the kings and queens of Fillory, but the days and nights of royal luxury are starting to pall. After a morning hunt takes a sinister turn, Quentin and his old friend Julia charter a magical sailing ship and set out on an errand to the wild outer reaches of their kingdom. Their pleasure cruise becomes an adventure when the two are unceremoniously dumped back into the last place Quentin ever wants to see: his parent’s house in Chesterton, Massachusetts. And only the black, twisted magic that Julia learned on the streets can save them.

The Magician King is a grand voyage into the dark, glittering heart of magic, an epic quest for the Harry Potter generation. It also introduces a powerful new voice, that of Julia, whose angry genius is thrilling. Once again Grossman proves that he is the modern heir to C.S. Lewis, and the cutting edge of literary fantasy.
 

Recent Arrivals: Blackstone Audio, Macmillian Audio, Penguin Audio, Brilliance Audio + MORE

October 19, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Recent Arrivals 

SFFaudio Recent Arrivals

Okay, here’s nearly a score of recently arrived audiobooks from several publishers. Frankly I think it may be a conspiracy to overwhelm us – to drown us in a gushing tide of massive audiobook goodness. To this I say, oh yeah audiobook publishers? That all you got? Huh? Huh?

First published in 1982 under a Matheson’s “Logan Swanson” pseudonym…

Blackstone Audio - Earthbound by Richard MathesonEarthbound
By Richard Matheson; Read by Bronson Pinchot
6 CDs – Approx. 6.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: September 2010
ISBN: 1441756886
David and Ellen Cooper came to the lonely beachside cottage in hopes of rekindling their troubled marriage. Yet they are not alone on their second honeymoon. Marianna, a beautiful and enigmatic stranger, comes to visit David whenever Ellen is away. Who is Marianna, and where has she come from? Even as he succumbs to her seductive charms, David realizes that Marianna is far more than a threat to his marriage, for her secrets lie deep in the past and beyond the grave. And her unholy desires endanger the life and soul of everyone she touches.

Book 4 in the urban fantasy private detective series set in New York…

Fantasy Audiobook - Every Last Drop by Charlie HustonEvery Last Drop – The Joe Pitt Casebooks, Book 4
By Charlie Huston; Read by Scott Brick
8 CDs – Approx. 9.3 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2010
ISBN: 9781441753281
It’s like this: a series of bullet-riddled bad breaks has seen rogue Vampyre and terminal tough guy Joe Pitt go from PI for hire to Clan-connected enforcer to dead man walking in a New York minute. And after burning all his bridges, the only one left to cross leads to the Bronx, where Joe’s brass knuckles and straight razor can’t keep him from running afoul of a sadistic old bloodsucker with a bad bark and a worse bite. Even if every Clan in Manhattan is hollering for Joe’s head on a stick, it’s got to be better than trying to survive in the outer-borough wilderness. So it’s a no-brainer when Clan boss Dexter Predo comes looking to make a deal. All Joe has to do to win back breathing privileges on his old turf is infiltrate an upstart Clan whose plan to cure the Vyrus could expose the secret Vampyre world to mortal eyes and set off a panic-driven massacre. Not cool. But Joe’s all over it. To save the Undead future, he just has to wade neck-deep through all the archenemies, former friends, and assorted heavy hitters he’s crossed in the past. No sweat? Maybe not, but definitely more blood than he’s ever seen or hungered for. And maybe even some tears–over the horror and heartbreaking truth about the evil men do no matter who or what they are.

The Fantasy Book Critic blog calls this one “a traditional, medieval European-influenced epic fantasy”…

Fantasy Audiobook - The River Kings' Road by Liane MercielThe River Kings’ Road – A Novel of Ithelas (Book 1)
By Liane Merciel; Read by Stefan Rudnicki
9 CDs – Approx. 11 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2010
ISBN: 9781441759221
A fragile period of peace between the eternally warring kingdoms of Oakharn and Langmyr is shattered when a surprise massacre fueled by bloodmagic ravages the Langmyrne border village of Willowfield, killing its inhabitants — including a visiting Oakharne lord and his family — and leaving behind a scene so grisly that even the carrion eaters avoid its desecrated earth. But the dead lord’s infant heir has survived the carnage, a discovery that entwines the destinies of Brys Tarnell, a mercenary who rescues the helpless and ailing babe, and a Langmyr peasant, a young mother herself, whom Brys enlists to nourish and nurture the child of her enemies as they travel a dark, perilous road. As one infant’s life hangs in the balance, so too does the fate of thousands, while deep in the forest, a Maimed Witch practices an evil bloodmagic that could doom them all.

According to the Wikipedia entry, in the universe of The Runelords, there exists a “unique magical system which relies on the existence of distinct bodily attributes, such as brawn, grace, and wit.” Well, that explains it, apparently I was secretly abducted from there as an infant [he said with a brawny, yet very graceful wit].

Blackstone Audio - The Runelords, Book 3by David FarlandWizardborn – The Runelords, Book 3
By David Farland; Read by Ray Porter
16 CDs – Approx. 19.1 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: August 2010
ISBN: 9781441753045
Certain works of fantasy are immediately recognizable as monuments, towering above the rest. Authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien and Terry Goodkind, come immediately to mind. Now add David Farland to that list, whose epic fantasy series began with The Runelords. Wizardborn continues the story of the struggle of Gaborn, now the Earth King, who has lost his powers but continues to lead his people. He must contend with the threat of the huge, inhuman Reavers, whose myriads Gaborn and his forces must now pursue across the nation. It has become Gaborn’s fate to follow, even into the depths. Raj Ahten, the great warlord endowed with the strength and qualities of thousands of men, once the primary threat to Gaborn, now struggles to retain his own empire. His war of conquest thwarted, his very life is now threatened by the Reaver thousands. And a young girl, Averan, who has eaten a Reaver and absorbed some of its memories, becomes a keystone in the search for the dark Reaver lair.

Check this out, it’s read by one of our reviewers, Mary Robinette Kowal!

Fantasy Audiobook - An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuireAn Artificial Night – An October Daye Novel
By Seanan McGuire; Read by Mary Robinette Kowal
16 CDs – Approx. 19 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: 2010
ISBN: 9781441858085
Changeling knight in the court of the Duke of Shadowed Hills, October “Toby” Daye has survived numerous challenges that would destroy fae and mortal alike. Now Toby must take on a nightmarish new assignment. Someone is stealing both fae and mortal children — and all signs point to Blind Michael. When the young son of Toby’s closest friends is snatched from their Northern California home and his sister falls into a coma-like state, the situation becomes way too personal. Toby has no choice but to track the villains down, even when there are only three magical roads by which to reach Blind Michael’s realm — home of the legendary Wild Hunt — and no road may be taken more than once. If she cannot escape with all the children before the candle that guides and protects her burns away, Toby herself will fall prey to the Wild Hunt and Blind Michael’s inescapable power. And it doesn’t bode well for the success of her mission that her own personal Fetch, May Daye – the harbinger of Toby’s own death — has suddenly turned up on her doorstep…

If it’s a plucky WWII time travel story set during London’s Blitz it must be Connie Willis…

Science Fiction Audiobook - Blackout by Connie WillisBlackout
By Connie Willis; Read by Katherine Kellgren
16 CDs – Approx. 19 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: 2010
ISBN: 9781441875167
Oxford in 2060 is a chaotic place. Scores of time-traveling historians are being sent into the past, to destinations including the American Civil War and the attack on the World Trade Center. Michael Davies is prepping to go to Pearl Harbor. Merope Ward is coping with a bunch of bratty 1940 evacuees and trying to talk her thesis adviser, Mr. Dunworthy, into letting her go to VE-Day. Polly Churchill’s next assignment will be as a shopgirl in the middle of London’s Blitz. And seventeen-year-old Colin Templer, who has a major crush on Polly, is determined to go to the Crusades so that he can “catch up” to her in age. But now the time-travel lab is suddenly canceling assignments for no apparent reason and switching around everyone’s schedules. And when Michael, Merope, and Polly finally get to World War II, things just get worse. For there they face air raids, blackouts, unexploded bombs, dive-bombing Stukas, rationing, shrapnel, V-1s, and two of the most incorrigible children in all of history — to say nothing of a growing feeling that not only their assignments but the war and history itself are spiraling out of control. Because suddenly the once-reliable mechanisms of time travel are showing significant glitches, and our heroes are beginning to question their most firmly held belief: that no historian can possibly change the past. From the people sheltering in the tube stations of London to the retired sailors who set off across the Channel to rescue the stranded British Army from Dunkirk, from shopgirls to ambulance drivers, from spies to hospital nurses to Shakespearean actors, Blackout reveals a side of World War II seldom seen before: a dangerous, desperate world in which there are no civilians and in which everybody — from the Queen down to the lowliest barmaid — is determined to do their bit to help a beleaguered nation survive.

I have no words for this one, I figure they must have been stolen and placed in the title…

Fantasy Audiobook - Going MutantGoing Mutant: The Bat Boy Exposed
By Neil McGinness, Dr. Barry Leed PH.D. (MBS), and the Editors of the Weekly World News; Read by Patrick Lawlor
5 CDs – Approx. 6 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: 2010
ISBN: 9781441890665
The Weekly World News team uncovers the definitive and faux-tastic story of Bat Boy, from his hardscrabble origins in the caves of West Virginia to his global influence inthe twenty-first century. Going Mutant reveals how Bat Boy has heeded a call to service that has embarrassed less forthcoming mutants: During the Gulf War, he deployed with the Special Forces. In the Bush years, he earned a special commendation from the government for his use of sonar, which led troops to the spider hole housing Saddam Hussein. And now Bat Boy joins forces with an unlikely crew of soldiers, scientists, and swamp mamas to battle a global pandemic that threatens to destroy our planet. This is an intimate look at the half bat/half boy, who has until now been shrouded in mystery (despite countless sightings and a megahit musical). Here, Bat Boy’s life is illuminated through a series of public and private documents obtained by the equally mysterious Dr. Barry Leed of the University of Indianapolis and through Weekly World News clippings. All this information comes together in this new Bitingsroman that reveals an archetypal American trickster who has risen from his lowly origins to become America’s favorite freedom fighter.

What did Neal Stephenson say to his audiobook publisher after Anathem? “If it ain’t Baroque don’t publish it.” [BA DUM DAM TISH]

Science Fiction Audiobook - King of the Vagabonds by Neal StephensonKing Of The Vagabonds – The Baroque Cycle #2
By Neal Stephenson; Read by Simon Prebble
10 CDs – Approx. 11 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: 2010
ISBN: 9781441876515
A chronicle of the breathtaking exploits of “Half-Cocked Jack” Shaftoe – London street urchin-turned-legendary swashbuckling adventurer – risking life and limb for fortune and love while slowly maddening from the pox. . . and Eliza, rescued by Jack from a Turkish harem to become spy, confidante, and pawn of royals in order to reinvent a contentious continent through the newborn power of finance.

This one’s opening story features Sookie Stackhouse at a Dracula’s birthday party! I can picture the dialogue now:

SOOKIE: Happy B’day Dracula.

DRACULA: Sookie, I vant to sook your blud.

Horror Audiobook - Many Bloody ReturnsMany Bloody Returns
Edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner; Read by Luke Daniels and Teri Clark Linden
11 CDs – Approx. 13 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: 2010
ISBN: 9781441862563
You’re invited…to a celebration of vampires by a baker’s dozen of favorite authors. Sink your teeth into thirteen original stories, each one a fresh and unique take on what birthdays mean to the undead. From Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse attending a birthday party for Dracula to Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden battling bloodsucking party crashers, these suspenseful, surprising, sometimes dark, sometimes humorous stories will ensure you’ll never think of vampires or birthdays quite the same again.

According to Wikipedia, this novel was first published in 1993, as a paperbook. It became the first book in the “Sianim series.”

Fantasy Audiobook - Masques by Patricia BriggsMasques
By Patricia Briggs; Read by Katherine Kellgren
8 CDs – Approx. 10 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: 2010
ISBN: 9781441892256
After an upbringing of proper behavior and oppressive expectations, Aralorn fled her noble birthright for a life of adventure as a mercenary spy. Her latest mission involves spying on the increasingly powerful sorcerer Geoffrey ae’Magi. But in a war against an enemy armed with the powers of illusion, how do you know who the true enemy is – or where he will strike next?

Book 1 in “The Inheritance Trilogy.” If I lived in this world I’d try to get into the crown making business.

Fantasy Audiobook - The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. JemisinThe Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
By N.K. Jemisin; Read by Casaundra Freeman
10 CDs – Approx. 12 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: 2010
ISBN: 9781441886453
Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle.

Is it any coincidence that the shortest audiobook in this list is the one I am most looking forward to hearing? There’s actually a simpler explanation, it’s an old Harry Harrison novel. Bingo!

Science Fiction Audiobook - The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry HarrisonThe Stainless Steel Rat
By Harry Harrison; Read by Phil Gigante
4 CDs – Approx. 5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: 2010
ISBN: 9781441881076
Jim DiGriz is caught during one of his crimes and recruited into the Special Corps. Boring, routine desk work during his probationary period results in his discovering that someone is building a battleship, thinly disguised as an industrial vessel. In the peaceful League no one has battleships anymore, so the builder of this one would be unstoppable. DiGriz’ hunt for the guilty becomes a personal battle between himself and the beautiful but deadly Angelina, who is planning a coup on one of the feudal worlds. DiGriz’ dilemma is whether he will turn Angelina over to the Special Corps, or join with her, since he has fallen in love with her.

I half get this joke. I’ve heard the name Garrison Keillor. He’s got something to do with NPR right? Yeah. I guess the Canadian version of GK is Stuart McLean and The Vinyl Cafe. The Stuart McLean version of this book would probably feature very polite zombies who were overly proud of their city and asked if you minded if you ate your brains.

Brilliance Audio - The Zombies of Lake Woebegotten by Harrison GeillorThe Zombies of Lake Woebegotten
By Harrison Geillor; Read by Phil Gigante
9 CDs – Approx. 10 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: 2010
ISBN: 9781441880369
The town of Lake Woebegotten, Minnesota, is a small town, filled with ordinary (yet above average) people, leading ordinary lives. Ordinary, that is, until the dead start coming back to life, with the intent to feast upon the living. Now this small town of above average citizens must overcome their petty rivalries and hidden secrets, in order to survive the onslaught of the dead.

If this scenario actually plays out I’d try to start an underground newspaper and point out, to our alien overlords, that human souls are not actually enslavable and that their whole purpose for invasion is doomed to utter failure.

Fantasy Audiobook - Valentine's Exile by E.E. KnightValentine’s Exile
By E.E. Knight; Read by
10 CDs – Approx. 12 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: 2010
ISBN: 9781441815767
Possessed of an unnatural and legendary hunger, the Reapers have come to Earth to establish a New Order built on the harvesting of enslaved human souls. They rule the planet. They thrive on the scent of fear. And if it is night, as sure as darkness, they will come. In a valiant rebellion against a half century of occupation by the Kurians, the newly formed Texas Republic and Ozark Free Territory have dealt the vampiric aliens their first major defeat. Resistance member David Valentine is revered as a hero for his part in fighting to regain Earth”s freedom. But a dangerous enemy within his own ranks soon has Valentine facing charges for his handling of the Quisling prisoners – humans who have become pawns of the Kurians in order to survive. When former Quisling – and now loyal freedom fighter – William Post is badly wounded, he asks Valentine to find his wife, who has vanished into the darkness of the Kurian Order. With the help of old friends and new allies, Valentine traces her to a mysterious, heavily guarded compound in Ohio. And what Valentine finds within will shake his sanity to its very core… Bonus Audio: Includes an exclusive introduction by author E.E. Knight.

We got two review copies of this audiobook, one was sent to our Canadian HQ, one was sent to our fortified compound in small town USA. They know where we live!!! It’s got a really slick looking promo trailer too.

Fantasy Audiobook - No Mercy by Sherrilyn KenyonNo Mercy: Dark Hunter #19
By Sherrilyn Kenyon; Read by Holter Graham
7 CDs – Approx. 9 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Published: September 2010
ISBN: 1427209693
Live fast, fight hard and if you have to die then take as many of your enemies with you as you can. That is the Amazon credo and it was one Samia lived and died by. Now in contemporary New Orleans, the immortal Amazon warrior is about to learn that there’s a worse evil coming to slaughter mankind than she’s ever faced before. Shapeshifter Dev Peltier has stood guard at the front of Sanctuary for almost two hundred years and in that time, he’s seen it all. Or so he thought. Now their enemies have discovered a new source of power- one that makes a mockery of anything faced to date. The war is on and Dev and Sam are guarding ground zero. But in order to win, they will have to break the most cardinal of all rules and pray it doesn’t unravel the universe as we know it.

Here’s an independently published audiobook that supports the establishment of Hogwarts style academies (with classes that teach you how to avoid being a Manchurian Candidate).

Fantasy Audiobook - Need for Magic by Joseph SwopeNeed For Magic
By Joseph Swope; Read by Justine Moral and Chris Dooly
2 MP3-CDs – Approx. 13.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Swimming Kangaroo
Published: June 14, 2010
Digital Availability: Audible.com
Need For Magic is an unabridged telling of the thought provoking and dangerous novel by Joseph Swope. Chris Dooly and Justine Moral combine their voice talents to offer a fantasy world where listeners can hear the gruff rumble of dwarves, the ancient wisdom of elves, and even the accented spell work of wizards. The arch-villain is not a dragon, wizard or overlord. The evil one is a charismatic woman who knows what people need. By masterfully playing to everyone’s need for approval and their need to feel important, she inspires fanatic devotion and gains the throne of a large nation. Even those with great magical power or deadly skill with a sword have needs. As a result, they too are played like puppets by her deft hand. Listeners should be wary that they will hear an echo of their own needs and maybe even a bit of magic they can bring into their own world. Need For Magic is also an exploration of social psychology. Indeed, the magic of Need for Magic is based on documented psychological studies gone awry. Conformity, persuasion and obedience are powerful forces that few can resist. Cults, the Stanford Prison Experiment, Stanley Milgram’s work, and the Stockholm Syndrome are examples of power more dangerous than any magic spell or dragon’s fire. Magic and Social Psychology, like all forms of power, can be used for good or ill. History is filled with leaders, dictators, and heroes who seem to have had a magical hold over others. There are few things more powerful than a group sacrificing for a common goal. The magic of Need for Magic is alive and well today. It can be practiced by anyone who listens to and watches what needs people seek to fill.

From Australia, set in a fantasy land that looks suspiciously like Britain, aimed at kids 8 to 12 (with hoodies), and looking good doing it…

Fantasy Audiobook - Ranger's Apprentice (Book 9) Halt's Peril by John FlanaganRanger’s Apprentice (Book 9) Halt’s Peril
By John Flanagan; Read by John Keating
11 CDs – Approx. 13.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Published: October 2010
ISBN: 0142428515
The Rangers are in trouble and not everyone will survive. The international bestselling Ranger’s Apprentice series turns up the tension in John Flanagan’s latest epic of battles and bravery.

Is the superhero genre is becoming a sub-class of urban fantasy? If so I hope he gets to fight an elfin girl with a dragon tattoo that her parents told her that she would regret getting in just a few years.

Fantasy Audiobook - Hero by Mike LupicaHero
By Mike Lupica; Read by Dan Bittner
5 CDs – Approx. 5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Published: November 2010
ISBN: 9780142428191
Fourteen-year-old Billy Harriman can feel the changes. The sharpening of his senses. The incredible strength. The speed, as though he can textmessage himself across miles. The confidence and the strange need to patrol Central Park at night. His dad had been a hero, a savior to America and a confidante of the president. Then he died, and the changes began in Billy. What Billy never knew was that his father was no ordinary man; he was a superhero, battling the world’s evil. This is a battle that has been waged for generations and that knows no boundaries. And now it’s Billy’s turn to take on the fight. It’s Billy’s turn to become a hero.

[Thanks Scott!]

Posted by Jesse Willis

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