Review of Oz Reimagined

June 12, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

ozOz Reimagined
Edited by John Joseph Adams and Douglas Cohen; Performed by Tanya Eby and Nick Podehl
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
11 hours [UNABRIDGED]

Themes: / fantasy / wizards / dorothy / oz /

Publisher summary (paraphrased):

The ultimate anthology for Oz fans – and, really, any reader with an appetite for richly imagined worlds… Some stories are dystopian…Some are dreamlike…All are undeniably Oz.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

“The Great Zeppelin Heist of Oz” – Rae Carson & C.C. Finlay
“Emeralds to Emeralds, Dust to Dust” – Seanan McGuire
“Lost Girls of Oz” – Theodora Goss
“The Boy Detective of Oz: An Otherland Story” – Tad Williams
“Dorothy Dreams” – Simon R. Green
“Dead Blue” – David Farland
“One Flew Over the Rainbow” – Robin Wasserman
“The Veiled Shanghai” – Ken Liu
“Beyond the Naked Eye” – Rachel Swirsky
“A Tornado of Dorothys” – Kat Howard
“Blown Away” – Jane Yolen
“City So Bright” – Dale Bailey
“Off to See the Emperor” – Orson Scott Card
“A Meeting in Oz” – Jeffrey Ford
“The Cobbler of Oz” – Jonathan Maberry

I didn’t pick this book to review out of Oz-Nostalgia, since I only have very vague childhood memories of reading the original L. Frank Baum stories, and these memories were nearly bleached out of my brain completely when I was in my twenties, because I worked in an electronics store that played The Wizard of Oz movie on a seemingly infinite loop. Despite that traumatic experience, I wanted to read this collection because I love seeing how different authors’ voices, experiences and imaginations can flavor a similar story concept; and because I remembered the best parts about Oz were the scary parts – the Winged Monkeys, the Wheelers, the mean witches – and so the idea of darker, more adult perceptions of Oz really appealed to me.

The collection was even better than I expected. The tales were so eclectic and interesting I never got tired with being in Oz and even ended up downloading the original stories once I’d finished so I could revisit the world. The Oz Reimagined stories include everything from murder mystery and psychological drama to dystopia, urban fantasy, and cyberpunk. The tones of the stories are also varied, with some taking a darker view and dealing with themes like aging or death, and others leaning more to the whimsical, colorful and cute.

The narrators, Tanya Eby and Nick Podehl, did an amazing job with all the different voices and styles of storytelling in this collection. When I clicked back through the audio to remind myself of the stories, I could tell which story was which right away just by the narrator’s cadence and tone. They managed a huge range of voices. I especially adored the voices of the pathetic lion and bitchy Dorothy in “Off to See the Emperor”: I listened to that one twice, both for the good writing and entertaining narration.

The authors in this collection range from rising stars to old pros. The stand-out stories for me were Seanan McGuire’s “Emeralds to Emeralds, Dust to Dust,” which was a beautiful tale with equally beautiful use of profanity (I love artfully used curse words); Tad William’s “The Boy Detective of Oz,” which is set in his Otherland computer-simulated world and which stars the fascinating glass cat; Dale Bailey’s “City So Bright,” about a working-class munchkin who polishes the wall for a system he realizes is completely corrupt; and Orson Scott Card’s “Off to See the Emperor,” with two of the intelligent and yet naïve child characters that Card does so incredibly well.

As Gregory Maguire says in the introduction, these are “postcards from the beyond,” and every writer has different experiences and points of view to share. I thought it was an awesome collection that took me on a little trip and reminded me why I enjoyed the scary, weird and colorful world of Oz when I was kid.

Posted by Marissa van Uden

Review of The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination edited by John Joseph Adams

May 29, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

The Mad Scientist's Guide to World DominationThe Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination
Edited by John Joseph Adams
Performed by Stefan Rudnicki, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Justine Eyre
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
16 hours [UNABRIDGED]

Themes: / mad scientists / science / superheroes / villains /

Publisher summary:

Mad scientists have never had it so tough. In super-hero comics, graphic novels, films, TV series, video games, and even works of what may be fiction, they are besieged by those who stand against them, devoid of sympathy for their irrational, megalomaniacal impulses to rule, destroy, or otherwise dominate the world as we know it. Dr. Frankenstein was the first truly mad scientist of the modern era. And what did it get him? Destroyed by his own creation. And Jules Verne’s Captain Nemo, a man ahead of his time as well as out of his head — what did he do to deserve persecution? Even Lex Luthor, by all accounts a genius, has been hindered not once, not twice, but so many times that it has taken hundreds of comic books, a few films, and no fewer than ten full seasons of a television series to keep him properly thwarted. It’s just not fair. So those of us who are so twisted and sick that we love mad scientists have created this guide. Some of the names have been changed to protect the guilty, but you’ll recognize them. It doesn’t matter, though. This guide is not for you. It’s for them: the underhanded, over-brained paranoiacs who so desperately need our help. What lies behind those unfocused, restless eyes and drooling, wicked grins? Why — and how — do they concoct their nefarious plots? Why are they so set on taking over the world? If you’ve ever asked yourself any of these questions, you’re in luck, because we are exposing their secrets, aiding and abetting their evil. It all awaits, within. Watch out, world!

Full table of contents on editor’s site.

I really enjoyed the first half of the stories in the collection but thought things got less interesting/slower in the second half. It may have been that some stories shared some similarities and the repetition got tiresome, but I don’t think so. I think it was actually that the second half of the stories had more of a serious tone to them that just didn’t go as well with me as the more humorous first half.

I really liked Chris Claremont’s introduction to the book. I thought it brought some interesting insights into why the bad guy is so important for the hero. I thought John Joseph Adams’ introductions to each story were helpful although a bit confusing in the audiobook format (it took a few stories before I understood what the heck was going on with the scientific categorization). I thought they helped me get into the story faster since I kind of knew what to expect and I do think I enjoyed the short stories more as a result. Some would say they spoil the stories but I didn’t think they revealed any more than the back of a novel would about its story.

There are 22 stories in this collection. Many are humorous and have interesting spins on the common tropes you’d expect from mad scientist or superhero stories. I generally liked all the stories but I’d say my favorites were Professor Incognito Apologizes, The Angel of Death Has a Business Plan, Captain Justice Saves the Day, and Rocks Fall.

I didn’t overly dislike any stories except for The Space Between by Diana Gabaldon. The story is by far the longest and I had trouble following the different character’s stories and understanding the point of the story. It appears that story is from a series by her so it may be that I didn’t like it because I haven’t read her other works.

I thought all three readers did a fantastic job with their voice acting in this collection. I would definitely listen to books performed by these readers again. I particularly liked Mary Robinette Kowal’s performances. She does a great job doing voices of people trying to be patient with the mad scientists – whether it be their therapist, assistant, or fellow evil genius.

Various sites have posted some of the stories online to read for free, compiled on the editor’s site, and those would be a good litmus test if this is the book for you. Professor Incognito Apologizes: an Itemized List by Austin Grossman is a great example of the more humorous offerings and The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss is a good example of the more serious stories.

Posted by Tom Schreck

The SFFaudio Podcast #199 – NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRIVALS

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #199 – Scott, Jesse, Tamahome, and Jenny talk about NEW RELEASES and RECENT ARRIVALS (audiobooks).

Talked about on today’s show:
Recent arrivals first, here’s Jenny’s list, Harry Harrison’s Deathworld, Speculative! Brilliance audiobooks (from public domain works), “he’s super clear”, author of Make Room! Make Room! (aka Soylent Green), Planet Of The Damned, “nice font”, Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Telling is in the Hanish Cycle, the out of print Harlan Ellison version of A Wizard of Earthsea, The Lathe Of Heaven and the PBS TV-movie with Bruce Davidson (trailer), Work Of The Devil by Katherine Amt Hanna, “the devil has no time for long novels”, Joe Hill’s Horns and In The Tall Grass (with Stephen King), Philip K. Dick’s Vulcan’s Hammer, similar to Colossus: The Forbin Project (film), “goes Skynet on your ass”, The Game-Players Of Titan has slug aliens, good names for bands, Time Out Of Joint, Tears In Rain by Rosa Montera is inspired by Blade Runner (it has a female Rutger Hauer), translated from Spanish, The Woodcutter by Kate Danley has fairy tale characters, Beowulf, Jeff Wheeler’s Legends Of Muirwood series released all at once, House Of Cards is a great British show, Dead Spots by Scarlett Bernard sounds like one of those Lifetime movies, The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke has a disturbing android romance, ewww!, Tam knows who Steven Erikson is (Forge Of Darkness), re-read of the Malazan series, we need urban fantasy and military SF people, Tenth Of December by George Saunders, prefers short stories, on Colbert, Vampires In The Lemon Grove by Karen Russell, her novel Swamplandia has been optioned by HBO, New releases start, Poe Must Die by Marc Olden, Ben Bova’s Farside comes out soon (hard SF), narrated by Stefan Rudnicki, Stefan’s Fantastic Imaginings, where’s James P. Hogan’s Inherit The Earth?, the movie Frequency didn’t star Kevin Bacon, the entire X Minus One radio drama run, short story audio collections having chapters and a table of contents, Star Wars audiobooks with enhanced sound, Bryce’s review of Star Wars: Scoundrels, more Star Trek novel audio books, more classic sf, Leigh Brackett, Jerry Pournelle, Harlan Ellison, Arthur C. Clarke, George R.R. Martin, “you’re welcome, Audible”, The Mad Scientist’s Guide To World Domination by John Joseph Adams, short fiction is back, Olaf Stapelton, like a science fiction The Silmarillion, SF Crossing The Gulf podcast will discuss Olaf Stapledon and others, Mary Doria Russell, where’s the audio version of Karen Lord’s The Best Of All Possible Worlds? (actually it came out the same day as the print version), Jenny loved it, what is the Candide connection Karen?, indie Scifi Arizona author Michael McCollum on Audible (Steve Gibson approved), the Audible Feb2013 Win-Win $4.95 sale, get the first in a series cheap, Sharon Shinn’s Archangel Samaria series, Image Comics’s first issue sale, The Red Panda audio drama becomes a comic (cover), John Scalzi’s The Human Division serial, wish science fiction authors in TV series, George R.R. Martin to develop more shows for HBO, football jerseys vs Star Trek uniforms.

Monkey Brain Comics - Mask Of The Red Panda

Posted by Tamahome

The SFFaudio Podcast #180 – READALONG: The Death Of Grass by John Christopher

October 1, 2012 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #180 – Jesse, Tamahome, and Jenny Colvin talk about The Death Of Grass by John Christopher.

Talked about on today’s show:
post-apocalyptic, John Christopher’s real name was Samuel Youd, also known as No Blade of Grass, an anti-pot novel?, “it’s not my idea of a good time”, Stephen King’s The Stand, it’s almost like a play, there is a BBC audio drama adaptation, why not fish?, the Inuit, apocalyptic expert Jenny weighs in, John is like a feudal lord, moral lines are crossed, John’s transformation, the terrible 1970 movie version, “why hello I think I will come with you”, the cons of agriculture, Jenny’s quinoa granola, just drop a few bombs, can’t they make Soylent Green?, potatoes can let you down, real African grass virus, Paolo Bacigalupi’s Windup Girl, famines today, George R. Stewart’s Earth Abides |OUR READALONG|, David Pringle’s Science Fiction: The Best 100 Novels 1949-1984 and The Ultimate Encyclopedia Of Science Fiction, John Joseph Adams’s Wastelands, Pat Frank’s Alas, Babylon, Science Fiction: The 101 Best Novels 1985-2010, Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower, LeVar Burton loves it, women in the novel, Stockholm syndrome, The Walking Dead, “Dun dun dun!”, “maybe Luke can re-edit it”, Starship Troopers, Doomsday Preppers

Audible - The Death Of Grass by John Christopher

Sphere SF - The Death Of Grass by John Christopher

Posted by Tamahome

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

The SFFaudio Podcast #159 – NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRIVALS

May 7, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #159 – Scott, Jesse, Tamahome, and Charles Tan talk about recently arrived audiobooks, new releases and more.

Talked about on today’s show:
Charles sent to World Fantasy, John Scalzi’s Fuzzy Nation is a reworking, Is WWW: Wonder by Robert J. Sawyer YA?, three from Angry Robot, Giant Thief by David Tallerman, Empire State by Adam Christopher is superhero noir, free comic book day, The Shadow comic by Garth Ennis, listening speeds, Dead Harvest by Chris F. Holm, Bolinda Audio from Australia, Dreamquake by Elizabeth Knox, YA is big, Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, “scare the crap out of little kids”, The Novice by Trudi Canavan, cozy fantasy, Dark Is The Moon by Ian Irvine, Hemlock Grove by Brian McGreevy, being developed for Netflix, polarizing, Angels Of Vengence by John Birmingham, futuristic Clancy?, White Horse by Alex Adams, Into The Black: Odyssey One by Evan Currie, ebook first, “I’m getting refreshed”, Jenny would like Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente, not Genevieve Valentine, Welcome To Bordertown edited by Ellen Kushner (Sfsignal interview) and Holly Black is all-new, “these stories are too wet”, A Handful Of Stars by Dana Stabenow is an older book, “Alaskans in space”, The Outcast Blade by John Courtenay has vampires, “well that’s disappointing”, how about steampunk?, the splitting of Warriors by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, Legends by Robert Silverberg, Scott thinks Far Horizons should be an audiobook, Agatha H. And The Clockwork Princess by Phil and Kaja Foglio, Girl Genius comics online, Dante Valentine series by Lilith Saintcrow, Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliassotti, “clockpunk”, Nightfall by Stephen Leather, soul legalities, “God is the ultimate scammer”, Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Infamous, paper books, Comedia Della Morte by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, usefulness of blurbs, The Company Of The Dead by David J. Kowalski, end of Scott’s stack, I didn’t know 8 Million Ways To Die by Lawrence Block was a book, lots from Audible Frontiers, Gregory Benford’s Galactic Center series with multiple narrators, Planet Of The Apes by Pierre Boulle, think of the movie inverted, “take your damn dirty hands off me”, Terry Bisson’s They’re Made Out Of Meat, Charles is reading the Shirley Jackson award nominees (horror and dark fantasy) to prepare for interviews, Peter Staub’s Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff, “it scared the pants off me”, where’s the John Joseph Adams anthology audiobooks?, Kim Stanley Robinson audio short story at Lightspeed Magazine, 2312 stays in the solar system, Mars trilogy if you like science, tons of new Robert Silverberg on Audible, The World Inside will be an HBO series, Scott liked Book Of Skulls, a bunch of Connie Willis, what’s on the horizon?, Existence by David Brin, Red Mars was a marathon, A Short, Sharp Shock by Kim Stanley Robinson, what kind of fantasy does he write?, John Scalzi’s Redshirts, bye Charles

The Shadow cover

 

Posted by Tamahome

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