Review of Total Recall by Philip K. Dick

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

SFFaudio Review

Total Recall by Philip K. DickTotal Recall
By Philip K. Dick; Performed by Phil Gigante
1 CD – Approx. 1 Hour [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
ISBN: 978-1-4692-4898-1
Themes: / Science Fiction / Mars / telepathy / memory /

Publisher Summary:

Philip K. Dick’s classic short story tells the story of Douglas Quail, an unfulfilled bureaucrat who dreams of visiting Mars, but can’t afford the trip. Luckily, there is Rekal Incorporated, a company that lets everyday stiffs believe they’ve been on incredible adventures. The only problem is that when technicians attempt a memory implant of a spy mission to Mars, they find that real memories of just such a trip are already in Quail’s brain. Suddenly, Quail is running for his life from government agents, but his memories might make him more of a liability than he is worth.

The first appearance of Philip K. Dick’s “Total Recall” was under the title “ We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” originally published in 1966 for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction as well as numerous short fiction anthologies. The current title owes the name to the movie adaptations (similar to 1982’s “Blade Runner”) which have help catapult the author from obscurity into a virtual household name. 2012 featured a new film version of “Total Recall,” and Brilliance Audio has also released among many other previously unavailable Philip K. Dick audiobooks a newly recorded version of the short story under the more familiar title.

The 26-page story is narrated by Audie Award winning narrator Phil Gigante and clocks in on one disc at just shy of one hour. Even though a short story, the narration is superbly done and I especially liked the attention given to little things for an example the telepathic voices heard in protagonist Douglas Quail’s head. For those not familiar with the story, the plot centers around the business REKAL which offers for a discounted fee false memories of adventures planted in their customers brains, often superior to the memories that of an actual excursion. The price includes token memorabilia and the wiping out of any knowledge that the trip was in fact a purchased and pre-packaged false memory. (So much so, that if customers suspect that their trip was in fact purchased at REKAL, they can return for a full discount of their fee.)

For those familiar from the plot of the original movie, only about the first half of the short story is used as a basis to launch the film into a detailed Martian secret agent thriller. The plot of Philip K. Dick’s story actually never leaves Earth, although the Martian journey is referred to as a key element. Instead, the story focuses on continued interaction with REKAL and a surprising further development that will be new to those who are only familiar to the story from the movie versions. (I’ve not seen the latest movie adaptation but it appears to follow the original movie closely more so and deviate even further from the short story.) Whether already a fan of the movies and story or not, the new audiobook offers a fresh and worthwhile take on one of Philip K Dick’s classic tales of science fiction.

Review by Dan VK

Review of Earthseed by Pamela Sargent

July 29, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Earthseed by Pamela Sargent Earthseed (The Seed Trilogy, #1)
Written by Pamela Sargent; Read by Amy Rubinate
8 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: December 2011
ISBN: 9781455118335
Themes: / space colonies / adventure / science fiction / space /
Awards: AudioFile Earphones Award; ALA Best Books for Young Adults Selection, 1983

Publisher Summary:

Ship hurtles through space. Deep within its core it carries the seed of humankind. Launched by the people of a dying Earth over a century ago, its mission is to find a habitable world for the children—fifteen-year-old Zoheret and her shipmates—whom it has created from its genetic banks.

To Zoheret and her shipmates, Ship has been mother, father, and loving teacher, preparing them for their biggest challenge: to survive on their own, on an uninhabited planet, without Ship’s protection. Now that day is almost upon them, but are they ready? Ship devises a test, and suddenly instincts that have been latent for over a hundred years take over. Zoheret watches as friends become strangers—and enemies. Can Zoheret and her companions overcome the biggest obstacle to the survival of the human race—themselves?

It is understandable why this book is getting attention again, almost 30 years since it was written: it’s another YA book that is similar to The Hunger Games.

In Earthseed, the reader is introduced to Zoheret, one of many teenagers aboard a ship traveling through space. Zoheret, and her ship mates, were all “born” on the ship, created by the ship (known as “Ship”) from DNA samples of Ship’s creator. Ship was sent from Earth with samples (and programming) from “the last of humanity on Earth,” set with a mission to find another world where no intelligent life exists and “seed” the world with humans. Ship raised these kids (about 50ish in total) from birth, teaching them, fulfilling a parental role. We enter the story as the kids, now teens, are getting ready to spend time in the “holo” (I presume it’s “holo” and not “hollow,” either way, it’s a wilderness environment on-board the ship) to train for what it will be like on the surface of the planet.

At this point, I’m sure you’re thinking that some Lord of the Flies type story is going to happen (I know that’s what I thought), and in fact there are some parallels between Lord of the Flies and Earthseed. However, Sargent does a wonderful job of making the story engaging with some surprising twists and turns along the way. While listening, I felt myself making excuses to listen to more of the story, not wanting to stop. I won’t spoil the story, but I will say that at the end, Ship’s residents find themselves making a life on the surface of the new planet and Ship goes off to seed another world.

I thought Amy Rubinate’s narration was superb. I normally don’t care for female narrators; usually they sound too dramatic for my taste. But Rubinate did a great job. I could always distinguish the voices of the characters, whether it was two females, two males, or a male and a female talking, and at no point did I feel like it was overdramatized. Also, the voice she used for Ship was a perfect matronly but somewhat robotic voice.

All three books in The Seed Trilogy are available in audio from Blackstone – Farseed (Book #2) and Seed Seeker (Book #3).

Review by terpkristin.

Review of Tunnel in the Sky by Robert A. Heinlein

October 30, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Tunnel in the Sky from Full Cast Audio Tunnel in the Sky
By Robert A. Heinlein; Read by David Baker and cast
10 hours 15 minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Full Cast Audio
Published: 2011
Themes: / Science Fiction / Survival / Space Travel / Society /

Publisher summary: When Rod Walker decides to take the final test for “Deacon” Matson’s interplanetary survival course, he knows he will be facing life-or-death situations on an unsettled planet. What he doesn’t expect is that something will go wrong with the “Tunnel in the Sky” and he and his fellow students will not be able to return to Terra.

Stranded on a hostile planet, Rod and his friends are faced with the challenge of carving a civilization out of the wilderness. They must deal with hunger, deprivation, and strangely savage beasts. But the bigger question is, can they survive each other?

This science fiction classic pits a savage world against the most untameable beast of all: the human animal. Chock full of high adventure, futuristic speculation, witty repartee, and profound philosophy, Tunnel in the Sky represents the greatest SF writer of all time at his peak.

Survival stories are frequent in YA literature, and Tunnel in the Sky was probably one of the first, originally published in 1955. It is referred to as one of “Heinlein’s Juveniles,” and is a great tale of adventure with a life-threatening scenario.   Rather than making a statement, as some of Heinlein’s works attempt to do, this book is just danger and kids using what they have learned to create a new society and survive on an alien planet.  Anyone who enjoyed The Hunger Games or Ender’s Game would probably also enjoy this story, as it has similar themes.  The time period of its original publication is evident in a few moments, but not to the extent I am used to when reading Heinlein.

This was my first experience with Full Cast Audio, and I felt the story was greatly enhanced by being in audio form.  There is sometimes transition background music, but it isn’t distracting, and the voice actors do a good job.  The narrator manages not to blend in with the other adult characters, making it clear when the story is being told.  A few occasions of the word “Huh?” are quite jarring screamed into the listener’s ear, but I think I’ll blame Heinlein for that.  After all, the main character of Rod needs to be a little naive for the story to work, and he is, more than a little.

Posted by Jenny Colvin

LibriVox: Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 017

June 4, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

LibriVox - Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 017Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 017
By various; Read by various
10 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 4 Hours 6 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 21, 2009
Science fiction (abbreviated SF or sci-fi with varying punctuation and case) is a broad genre of fiction that often involves sociological and technical speculations based on current or future science or technology. This is a reader-selected collection of short stories, first published between 1951 and 1962, that entered the US public domain when their copyright was not renewed.

Podcast feed: http://librivox.org/bookfeeds/short-science-fiction-collection-017.xml

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

LibriVox - Belly Laugh by Randall GarrettBelly Laugh
By Randall Garrett; Read by Jozef Nagy
1 |MP3| – Approx. 5 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 21, 2009
You hear a lot of talk these days about secret weapons. If it’s not a new wrinkle in nuclear fission, it’s a gun to shoot around corners and down winding staircases. Or maybe a nice new strain of bacteria guaranteed to give you radio-active dandruff. Our own suggestion is to pipe a few of our television commercials into Russia and bore the enemy to death.

LibriVox - Citadel by Algis BudrysCitadel
By Algis Budrys; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 53 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 21, 2009
He was looking for a privacy his strange personality needed. And—never quite seemed to achieve it. All his efforts were, somehow—great triumphs of the race, and great failures for him! From the February 1955 issue of Astounding Science Fiction. This story is told from only one side of the conversation.

LibriVox - Cully by Jack EganCully
By Jack Egan; Read by Jozef Nagy
1 |MP3| – Approx. 11 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 21, 2009
By all the laws of nature, he should have been dead. But if he were alive … then there was something he had to find. From Amazing Stories, January 1963.

LibriVox - The Defenders by Philip K. DickThe Defenders
By Philip K. Dick; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 50 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 21, 2009
No weapon has ever been frightful enough to put a stop to war—perhaps because we never before had any that thought for themselves! From Galaxy Science Fiction January 1953.

LibriVox - The Good Neighbors by Edgar PangbornThe Good Neighbors
By Edgar Pangborn; Read by Bellona Times
1 |MP3| – Approx. 15 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 21, 2009
You can’t blame an alien for a little inconvenience—as long as he makes up for it! First published in Galaxy magazine, June 1960.
A first contact story.

LibriVox - In The Avu Observatory by H.G. WellsIn The Avu Observatory
By H.G. Wells; Read by Nacelle Droll
1 |MP3| – Approx. 19 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 21, 2009
“The observatory at Avu, in Borneo, stands on the spur of the mountain. To the north rises the old crater, black at night against the unfathomable blue of the sky. From the little circular building, with its mushroom dome, the slopes plunge steeply downward into the black mysteries of the tropical forest beneath.” Set in Borneo. First published in 1894.

LibriVox - Postmark Ganymede by Robert SilverbergPostmark Ganymede
By Robert Silverberg; Read by tabithat
1 |MP3| – Approx. 17 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 21, 2009
Consider the poor mailman of the future. To “sleet and snow and dead of night”—things that must not keep him from his appointed rounds—will be added, sub-zero void, meteors, and planets that won’t stay put. Maybe he’ll decide that for six cents an ounce it just ain’t worth it. From Amazing Stories, September 1957.

LibriVox - Toy Shop by Harry HarrisonToy Shop
By Harry Harrison; Read by Albatross
1 |MP3| – Approx. 12 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 21, 2009
The gadget was strictly, beyond any question, a toy. Not a real, workable device. Except for the way it could work under a man’s mental skin… From Analog April 1962.

LibriVox - Vital Ingredient by Gerald VanceVital Ingredient
By Gerald Vance*; Read by James Christopher
1 |MP3| – Approx. 16 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 21, 2009
Frankie was ready for the big test—Ten-Time Winner of the world title. He was young and fit and able; also, he had Milt’s cunning brain to direct every feint and punch. This left only one thing in doubt, the— From Amazing Stories September 1956. *This story may have been written by Randall Garrett.

LibriVox Science Fiction - Vortex Blaster by E. E. Doc SmithThe Vortex Blaster
By E. E. “Doc” Smith; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 46 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 21, 2009
The Lensman and the observer helped Storm into his heavily padded armor. Their movements were automatic—the ointment, the devices— From the pages of the pulp magazine Comet, July 1941.

Posted by Jesse Willis