My visit to the new Coquitlam City Centre Library

November 13, 2012 by · 6 Comments
Filed under: News 

SFFaudio News

Coquitlam City Centre Library

For the last couple of decades I’ve lived on the same street as my public library. That’s been one of the reasons that I live where I do. But today the local branch of Coquitlam’s public library moved two blocks south and opened for the first time.

The new address is 1169 Pinetree Way.

And the new space is great, very open, with plenty of study areas, and lots of room to grow the collection – and best of all it’s still within walking distance!

The first thing I did when I got there was to make a donation to the library’s collection, a combination of paperbooks, DVDs, comics, and audiobooks. Patrons of Coquitlam public library system should soon see these items on their shelves:

donations to the library's collection

Here’s a partial list:

City Of Dragons by Kelli Stanley |SFFAUDIO PODCAST #061|
Fate Of Worlds by Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner
Elidor by Alan Garner
Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris’ Ex Machina (volumes 1-5)
The complete Babylon 5 DVD set (all five seasons plus the movies)
Inferno by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle |READ OUR REVIEW|
V For Vendetta by Steve Moore |READ OUR REVIEW|
Armor by John Steakley |READ OUR REVIEW|
I Am Legend and Other Stories by Richard Matheson |READ OUR REVIEW|

And here are some shots of the library’s facilities:

New Arrivals at the Coquitlam City Centre Library
Teens section at the Coquitlam City Centre Library
study area at the Coquitlam City Centre Library
group study room at the Coquitlam City Centre Library
the Coquitlam City Centre Library

Posted by Jesse Willis

Commentary: SFSignal Mind Meld on the best of 2010

December 15, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Commentary, SFFaudio essential 

SFFaudio Commentary

SFSignal.comJP Frantz, of the wonderful SFSignal blog, recently asked me to participate in their annual year end “Mind Meld.”

Here’s the topic:

Q: What were the best genre-related books, movies and/or shows you consumed in 2010?

Here was my answer:

Audiobooks in 2010:
The year isn’t over yet, and I’m really enjoying the new Brilliance Audio (Audible Frontiers) reading of The Speed Of Dark by Elizabeth Moon. Of the audiobooks I’ve reviewed this year I’m pleased to report the first audiobook released in the Gabriel Hunt series, Hunt: Through The Cradle Of Fear |READ OUR REVIEW|, and it’s bonus short story “Nor Idolatry Blind the Eye” have really scratched the Fantasy Adventure itch that I occasionally get. Another pair of novels released by Blackstone Audio, written by the recently deceased John Steakley, were designated SFFaudio Essentials. As read by the powerful Tom Weiner Armor |READ OUR REVIEW| and Vampire$ |READ OUR REVIEW| make for a very interesting pair of novels – they have multiple character names in common and yet one is Science Fiction (in the tradition of Starship Troopers) and the other is Fantasy (with vampires). Similarly, Full Cast Audio’s unabridged reading of Robert A. Heinlein’s Red Planet is, in my mind, now the definitive telling of the novel. It features a full cast of actors performing the entirety of the novel’s text (minus attributions). This brings the story to life in a way no TV or movie adaptation ever could – it doesn’t change a single golden word. Finally, George R. Stewart’s Earth Abides, available through Audible.com and Brilliance Audio, was perhaps the highlight of my audiobook year. Earth Abides had me reconsidering much of my outlook on life – that’s a powerful piece of SF.

Audio Drama in 2010:
In the audio drama department BrokenSea‘s expansive adaptation of Escape From New York |READ OUR REVIEW| blew my socks off! It’s a hardcore retelling of the movie of the same name with enhancements and inspiration from the novelization of the script. And, as always, the ever dependable Red Panda Adventures |READ OUR REVIEW|, now in it’s fifth season, is ramping up to a wonderful World War II arc – turning Toronto superheroes against the baddest baddies of them all – those evil Nazi scum. 2010 was a very good year for audiobooks and audio drama.

In the 2010 comics department:
I’ve been swept up in Eric Shanower’s epic quest to retell the entirety of the Trojan War in his Age Of Bronze series of graphic novels. I am also currently reading The Walking Dead and enjoying it very much. But I am not yet ready to admit that either The Walking Dead comics or on the TV show are even half as great as the zombie freaky awesomeness in the Garth Ennis and Jacen Burrows series Crossed (which I read in the spring). Crossed is one scary good comic. I also thoroughly enjoyed Logicomix: An Epic Search For Truth by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos Papadimitriou. It’s kind of about Bertrand Russell and kind of about the only part of philosophy that I am really bad at, natural deductive logic.

Movies and TV in 2010:
The only movies that I’ve seen, worthy of the designation Science Fiction, in 2010, were Moon and Inception. If you made me pick which was superior I’d take Moon over Inception and not just because I root for the underdog. In TV, Spartacus: Blood and Sand turned out to be well worth wading through – it’s 300-style green screen visual effects nearly drowned me, but I stuck with it, and the story and acting paid-off supremely.

You can read it |HERE| along with a bunch of other folk’s own lists.

And, I participated in the 2009 Mind Meld on the same topic too!

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Vampire$ by John Steakley

June 13, 2010 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Reviews, SFFaudio essential 

SFFaudio Review

Horror Audiobook - Vampire$ by John SteakleySFFaudio EssentialVampire$
By John Steakley; Read by Tom Weiner
10 CDs – Approx. 10 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2010
ISBN: 1441727213
Themes: / Horror / Vampires / Religion / Catholicism / Mercenaries /

Suppose there really were vampires. Dark, stalking, destroying. They’d have to be killed, wouldn’t they? Of course they would. But what kind of fools would try to make a living at it? In best-selling author John Steakley’s vampire classic, one tightly knit band of brothers devotes itself to hunting down the monsters that infest the modern world—for a price. An exciting blend of horror and western genres, Vampire$ is a twenty-first-century Ghostbusters with an edge.

I first found out about John Steakley when watching John Carpenter’s Vampire$. The on screen accreditation didn’t mean much then. I figured that what goodness was found in that movie came from Carpenter. And that’s largely true. Their rather different in plot, or at least in the way the plot plots out. Its clear that John Steakey’s novel served more as the inspiration than a blueprint for the movie. The novel feels much richer, much wider, and also much more personal, than Carpenter’s version.

Now, having read this audiobook after John Steakley’s other novel, Armor |READ OUR REVIEW|, I’ve come to the conclusion that Steakley has a pattern or two. First up there’s the name thing. Two names are recycled from Armor (even though they aren’t the same characters). Felix, the gunslinger (and ex-drug trafficker) has an important role in Vampire$. Jack Crow, the lead vampire hunter, is arguably the main protagonist. Armor, which is set maybe a thousand years in the future, has two characters with those exact names too, and they play similar importance in the plot. This is a novel full of twists and turns that even a fan of the movie based on the novel can be surprised by Similarwise, the emotional impact is the primacy of the novel’s power. Sure, this novel has maybe a few innovations I’ve never read before:

1. God is real AND vampires are too.
2. A team of mercenaries, with pure hearts, are taking cash for cleaning up vampire infested towns.
3. The anti-vamp mercs are in league with the Pope and the Vatican, who know and support their efforts.

Narrator Tom Weiner gets to play a fairly wide range of characters. On top of the brooding Felix and the unstoppable Jack Crow he’s got a compassionate pope, an irate Texas sheriff, and a bloodsucking vampire (or two) too.

This is a case where a good movie was based on an very good novel and a good novel got made into a great audiobook. Vampire$ is an emotionally impactive audiobook that surprises with its innovate approach to an old foe: those old evil vampires fucks that you gotta love, and Jack Crow’s gotta hate.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Armor by John Steakley

June 13, 2010 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Reviews, SFFaudio essential 

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction - Armor by John SteakleySFFaudio EssentialArmor
By John Steakley; Read by Tom Weiner
11 CDs – Approx. 13.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2009
ISBN: 1433294834
Themes: / Science Fiction / Military SF / War / Leadership / Drugs / Psychology /

The planet is called Banshee. The air is unbreathable, the water poisonous. It is the home of the most implacable enemies that humanity, in all its interstellar expansion, has ever encountered. Felix is a scout in A-team Two. Highly competent, he is the sole survivor of mission after mission. Yet he is a man consumed by fear and hatred. And he is protected not only by his custom-fitted body armor, the culmination of ten thousand years of the armorers’ craft, but also by an odd being which seems to live with him, a cold killing machine he calls “the Engine.” This best-selling science-fiction classic is a story of the horror, the courage, and the aftermath of combat and also of how strength of spirit can be the greatest armor of all.

Armor is a novel that was clearly inspired by Robert A. Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. It makes use of both powered exoskeletons and insect-like alien enemies. But, instead of being a novel of politics and leadership it is a very different kind of story. At first I thought it was about the psychological effects of violence and the various kinds of heroism that can exist within a person. I was wrong because that isn’t enough. This novel is not one or two things. It isn’t the normal kind of idea driven SF that I so love – instead its ideas flow more through the emotions, eliciting our sympathies. I think this was acomplished by it changing, turning over and over, with it’s many plot surprises.

Early on Felix, our viewpoint character, refers to something he calls an “engine.” I thought he was describing the powered armor of the title. That would make sense, there was a video game called Heavy Gear that, like than Mechwarrior, had men and women doing battle in humanoid shaped tanks. I think it refereed to its “mechs” as “engines.” Felix seems pretty much like any of the other soldiers he’s been dropped with on planet Banshee. Maybe he’s a bit more of a hick – he doesn’t know the names of the winners at the Powered Olympics. Felix makes no waves, volunteers for nothing. He just wants to survive the battle to come. But when the waves of enemy aliens pour out of their holes only Felix survives – and keeps on surviving.

Armor has taut battle scenes, flowing exposition, and realistic dialogue. Had John Steakley written more, and his other novel Vampire$ |READ OUR REVIEW|, I think he’d be a very well known author.

The first third (or so) of the novel follows Felix, a low ranking scout in the invasion of the planet Banshee. Here the action somewhat resembles that of Starship Troopers. Then there is an abrupt switch – the novel seems to lurch into an an entirely different scene and setting. Set a few years later and following in first person perspective this time we meet a man named Jack Crow. Crow is a notorious galactic scoundrel. A well known thief, pirate, and adventurer – his legend is long and precedes him even to an obscure research station on a planet called Sanction. Crow is there to infiltrate, but eventually finds himself involved in an experiment – one that drains him of his half-hearted bravado and changes his life. If were talking about where this novel fits in the SF library I’ll say this: Armor synthesizes the action of Heinlein’s Troopers with the emotional impact of Haldeman’s The Forever War – but still comes off as a completely unique story.

Tom Weiner, who seems to be narrating almost every Blackstone Audio audiobook that I’m listening to these days, delivers his usual letter perfect narration. Weiner animates Felix with a weary melancholy of a veteran scout, brightens audibly with the cocksure Crow, pulls a vocal Tom Bombadil with Louis, feminizes for Lya, and geeks it all up for Holly (a star-struck scientist). That’s pretty impressive. Check this audiobook out!

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #060

May 31, 2010 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #060 – Jesse and Scott talk about recently arrived audiobooks!

Talked about on today’s show:
Roger Ebert’s review of The Human Centipede, BoingBoing, World Horror Convention 2008, Salt Lake City, how the horror genre has changed, Hater by David Moody |READ OUR REVIEW|, anti-Americanism, Your Movie Sucks by Roger Ebert, Awake In The Dark by Roger Ebert, Roger Ebert’s review of Reservoir Dogs, recent arrivals, Tantor Media, The Horror Stories Of Robert E. Howard, Pigeons From Hell, Worms Of The Earth, The Cairn On The Headland, I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells, Dexter as a teenager, Columbine by Dave Cullen |READ OUR REVIEW|, the Writing Excuses Podcast, LUTE Brigham Young University, Mr. Monster by Dan Wells, The Eerie Silence by Paul Davies, science, SETI, Scott’s Pick Of The Week: Goodreads.com, social networking that works, Beowulf by Anonymous, Seamus Heaney‘s translation, The Epic Of Gilgamesh BBC Audio Drama, RadioArchive.cc, City Of Dragons by Kelli Stanley, the Bish’s Beat blog, private investigation, San Fransisco, The Spanish Civil War, Brilliance Audio, High Deryni by Katherine Kurtz, The Tales Of Dying Earth, Rhialto the Marvelous by Jack Vance, Seeing Ear Theatre, The Moon Moth by Jack Vance |READ OUR REVIEW|, social science fiction, Tale Of The Thunderbolt by E.E. Knight, vampires, alien invasion, The Space Vampires by Colin Wilson, Lifeforce, Vampires by John Steakley, what Steakley is doing with his novels (examining one small aspect of violence), The Guns Of August by Barbara Tuchman, Heist Society by Ally Carter, Luke Burrage’s review of Robert J. Sawyer’s Calculating God on the Science Fiction Book Review Podcast, WWW: Watch by Robert J. Sawyer, The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi, the Nebula awards, reading the Hugo nominees, Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast by Eugie Foster |READ OUR REVIEW|, Lawrence Santoro, Eros Philia Agape by Rachel Swirsky, Blackstone Audio, Enchantment by Orson Scott Card, Stefan Rudnicki, Sleeping Beauty, Jesse’s Pick Of The Week: Snow Glass Apples by Neil Gaiman, Snow White And the Seven Dwarfs, Bebe Neuwirth, The Dreaming blog, Murder Mysteries by Neil Gaiman, Nadya by Pat Murphy, werewolves, Poland, California, 19th century, Rachel In Love by Pat Murphy, Vampire Zero by David Wellington, civil war, The Bradbury Report by Steven Polansky, The Island, did Ray Bradbury write a cloning story?, what’s the best cloning novel you’ve ever read?, cloning doesn’t really live in fiction, Surrogates, Kiln People by David Brin, Cyteen by C.J. Cherryh, Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm, Mimic by Donald A. Wollheim, Red Dwarf is a great hard Science Fiction series!, “what’s the best cloning novel?”, Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth, Bronson Pinchot, “shadowy conspiracy” = “secret secret”, The Bradbury 13 by Ray Bradbury, radio drama, The Hitch-hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy isn’t audio drama’s best exemplar (The Bradbury 13 is), City Of Truth by James Morrow, satire, religion, The Invention Of Lying, This Is The Way the World Ends by James Morrow, PaperbackSwap.com, Dan Carlin’s Common Sense podcast, oligarchy, talking points, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Obamacare, “-gate” is not a suffix meaning scandal, the difference between English and French, words map the world, words are the magic in our world, ZBS Foundation, Dinotopia: The World Beneath (audio drama), Yuri Rasovsky, a kid who doesn’t like dinosaurs?, Blake’s 7: The Early Years: Zen: Escape Velocity, Robin Hood, Zen and the Liberator is like Blake’s Sherwood Forest! Babylon 5, J. Michael Straczynski’s City Of Dreams.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #057

May 3, 2010 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Audio Drama, Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #057 – Jesse and Scott talk about the recently arrived audiobooks

Talked about on today’s show:
Penguin Audio, Stephen King, Brian Murphy of The Silver Key blog, The Dark Half, The Tommyknockers, Christine, It, reading all of Stephen King’s books, Brilliance Audio, Directive 51 by John Barnes, The Stand, Hater by David Moody, “the worst sin that any book can commit”, Angelology by Danielle Trussoni, reading out loud vs. reading in your head, Lost Fleet: Victorious by Jack Campbell, Audible Frontiers, Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks, The Player Of Games, RadioArchive.cc, audio drama, State Of The Art, the GoodReads.com HARD SF group, Hard SF, space opera, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman |READ OUR REVIEW|, the phenomenon of characters named “Jack“, Jack Bauer from 24, Armor by John Steakley, “Jack Crow”, recycling the names of characters, Vampire$ by John Steakley, the hidden history of Jack, why people like 24, Jane Slayre by Charlotte Brontë and Sherri Browning Erwin, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, the trend of remixing public domain classics with modern monsters, Dancing On The Head Of A Pin by Thomas E. Sniegoski, “magic sword book, with angels”, The Invention Of Lying, WWW: Wake by Robert J. Sawyer |READ OUR REVIEW|, The Dying Earth: Cugel’s Saga by Jack Vance, The Count Of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, The Android In The Iron Mask, Andre Norton, Web Of The Witch World, Year Of The Unicorn, Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein, what is YA (young adult) fiction?, is YA is for adults too?, Little Brother by Cory Doctorow |READ OUR REVIEW|, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, Harry Potter, Paul Bishop of the Bish’s Beat blog loves YA books!, would Dirty Harry read YA?, the ability to affect the world, The Science Of Harry Potter, riding on the coattails of another book, the Open Court Presents podcast, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy: Fear and Trembling in Sunnydale, Firefly‘s philosophy episode Objects In Space, Hitchcock And Philosophy, Alfred Hitchcock‘s Rope, Anne Is A Man, the Catholic Stuff You Should Know podcast, Dan Carlin’s HardCore History “Show 33 – (BLITZ) Old School Toughness”, Murdoch Mysteries, Corner Gas, Dog River, Saskatchewan, Connie Willis wrote a whole book about bells, Bellwether by Connie Willis, Scott’s Pick Of The Week: Blackout by Connie Willis, The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis, To Say Nothing Of The Dog by Connie Willis, time travel, Three Men In A Boat by Jerome K. Jerome, reading about books (in books), Castle, fictional fictional characters (a great wikipedia entry), Bones, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy by Hawthorne Abendsen, is Hawthorne Abendsen supposed to be an alternate universe Robert A. Heinlein?, Colorado, “deeply nested fiction”, Ellery Queen, Dr. John Watson, Swords And Deviltry by Fritz Leiber, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Sword Of Sorcery, Blackstone Audio, The Musashi Flex by Steve Perry, Peter David, the Audio Drama Review blog, James Snowe’s review of The Zombie Astronaut’s Frequency Of Fear, W. Ralph Walters, awards, Startide Rising by David Brin |READ OUR REVIEW|, Kiln People by David Brin, Surrogates is “a big-old-fashioned-clunky-80s-action-movie”, Halfway To The Grave by Jeaniene Frost, The Twilight Zone Companion, 2nd Edition by Marc Scott Zicree, King Kong |READ OUR REVIEW|, Orson Scott Card, Dercum Audio, A Dirge For Clowntown by James Powell, Dreamsongs Vol. 1 by George R.R. Martin |READ OUR REVIEW|, The Road To Science Fiction, Science Fiction 101 (aka Worlds Of Wonder) edited by Robert Silverberg, Home Is The Hunter by Henry Kuttner, Honest Roger Belamy, New York, The Monsters by Robert Sheckley, Wonder Audio, Fondly Fahrenheit, Scanners Live In Vain by Cordwainer Smith, Little Black Bag by C.M. Kornbluth, Day Million by Frederik Pohl, perhaps the first ever singularity story, Jesse’s Pick Of The Week: Pride Of Baghdad, the second Gulf War, anthropomorphic fiction, Baghdad.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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