The SFFaudio Podcast #201 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Inn by Guy de Maupassant

February 25, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #201 – The Inn (aka Ulrich The Guide) by Guy de Maupassant, read by Mirko Stauch. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the short story (34 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse and Mirko.

Talked about on today’s show:
Where and why, more and more Maupassant, is there a definitive list of Guy de Maupassant SFF stories?, German translations, the BBC audio drama adaptation of The Inn, RadioArchive.cc, a ghost story, the twist in the end or the twist middle, great writing, an ambiguous ghost story, a psychological happening, the dog’s reaction, revenant, “it becomes the monster”, Louise Hauser, is Ulrich dead?, Gaspard, The Others, Maupassant tricks us, “they bury themselves”, Ulrich is punished for no reason, the voice, white noise, Ulrich’s religious beliefs, Cologne on a cold night, the ravens!, the audio drama improves on the short story!, a filling metaphor, “the immense ocean of pale mountain summits”, mainstream, the vertical issue, Wolfgang von Goethe, “only a very stable character”, a proto-cosmic horror, The Festival by H.P. Lovecraft, a Christmas story, describing nature, the second meaning, “arose from the snow itself”, “he’s alone on the Moon”, being alone, cabin fever, we are alone in the cosmos, community allows us to hide from the harsh truth, gambling, “I would have brought a bunch of books”, “illiterate mountain peasants”, a lonely island, did Gaspard fall into a crevasse?, nature is the monster, the unknown is more terrifying, the terror of the soul, undeserved guilt, “eighteen degrees of frost”, “he was of a sleepy nature”, 1886, Guy de Maupassant visited the Alps, riddled with disease, the Inn at Schwarenbach, The Shining by Stephen King, an internal flaw, “he could speak no human words”, Nightflyers by George R.R. Martin, Perry Rhodan, Silent Running, I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, the dog as a symbol, the dog as a companion, the importance of routine for the lonely, the demon of loneliness, “all is busy work before the grave”, Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, Castaway, The Piece Of String (aka The Piece Of Yarn), “eating a sandwich that you find on the sidewalk”, he dies alone and unloved, “two feets”, every Norman is trapped in disbelief, it could have happened to us!, his hair turned white, Supernatural Horror In Literature by H.P. Lovecraft, “the unseen”, “the outer blackness”, able to appreciate the immensity of reality, Honey Boo Boo, The Horla by Guy de Maupassant, The Call Of Cthulhu, “when I think of H.P. Lovecraft I don’t think of immense tentacles.”

The Inn by Guy de Maupassant

The Inn by Guy de Maupassant

Ulrich The Guide by Guy de Maupassant

Posted by Jesse Willis

New Releases: iambik audio

July 16, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Aural Noir, New Releases 

Aural Noir: New Releases

Iambik AudiobooksHere’s the latest crime collection from iambik audio. And while imabik offers excellent DRM free versions of their titles on their easy to use website you may also be interested to know that more than thirty titles are now available through Audible.com too.

The pick of the bunch, just going by the descriptions, appears to be The Vaults by Toby Ball. And based on the reviews of the print edition, which came out last September, it seems this debut novel is rather well regarded!

iambik audio - Hard Cold Whisper by Michael HemmingsonHard Cold Whisper
By Michael Hemmingson; Read by Adam Verner
MP3 Download – Approx. 2 Hours 56 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: iambik audio
Published: July 15, 2011
Sample |MP3|
David Kellgren is a process server, a job where everyone wants to kill the messenger and things can get a little bit dangerous and out of hand. David is attacked when trying to serve legal papers to a gang member and an angel comes to his rescue: nineteen-year-old Gabriella Amaya, trapped in a large dilapidated house, caring for her dying aunt. This elderly aunt has money, diamonds, and real estate, promised to Gabriella when the aunt dies. Is there any way the sultry caregiver can get her crafty hands on that wealth sooner? And share it with her new lover, the unsuspecting process server who starts to wonder if he’s become a patsy in an elaborate murder plot, or if he simply cannot allow himself to truest any woman who says, “I love you.” Set in San Diego, Chula Vista, and Tijuana, Hard Cold Whisper is Michael Hemmingson at his finest, most terse and torqued prose in the crime genre. — Hemmingson wrote Hard Cold Whisper as an experiment during the 2010 3 Day Novel Challenge during Labor Day Weekend, a concerted event where writers all over the world participate. The method here pays homage to hardboiled noir master Gil Brewer, who wrote many of his finest Fawcett Gold Medal titles in a possessed, white hot flash fury of several days or a week. Hard Cold Whisper is Hemmingson’s nod to the feel and atmosphere of the Gold Medal paperback.

iambik audio - Listen To The Dead by Randall PefferListen To The Dead
By Randall Peffer; Read by Art Carlson
MP3 or M4B Download – Approx. 7 Hours 27 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: iambik audio
Published: July 15, 2011
Sample |MP3|
Inspired by one of the largest unsolved cases of serial killings in the United States, the New Bedford Serial Killings of 1988. Harbormaster Corby Church finds the bones of a human body on Bird Island off Cape Cod. As brassy, young police detective Yemanjá Colón struggles with the case, she realizes that Church may know more than he’s letting on, and a trip he took to the Bahamas in the ’80s may prove the key.

iambik audio - Richmond Noir by variousRichmond Noir
Edited by Andrew Blossom, Brian Castleberry and Tom De Haven; Read by Charles Bice
MP3 or M4B – Approx. 7 Hours 51 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher iambik audio
Published: July 15, 2011
Sample |MP3|
Collection edited by Andrew Blossom, Brian Castleberry and Tom De Haven. “In The Air-Conditioned Nightmare, Henry Miller tosses off a hard-bitten assessment of the City on the James: ‘I would rather die in Richmond somehow,’ he writes, ‘though God knows Richmond has little enough to offer.’ As editors, we like the dying part, and might point out that in its long history, Richmond, Virginia has offered up many of the disparate elements crucial to meaty noir. The city was born amid deception, conspiracy, and violence…

imabik audio - The Painted Messiah by Craig SmithThe Painted Messiah
By Craig Smith; Read by Clive Catterall
MP3 or M4B Download – Approx. 9 Hours 54 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: iambik audio
Published: July 15, 2011
Sample |MP3|
The Painted Messiah combines a blistering action thriller set in the streets of Zurich and on the lakes and wooded slopes of Switzerland with a compulsive and convincing account of first century Romano-Judaean politics and the real reason for Pontius Pilate’s condemnation and execution of Christ. A legend persists that, after the ‘scourging’, Pilate commanded that his victim be painted from life. Somewhere, the painting survives, the only true image of Christ, granting the gift of everlasting life to whoever possesses it. Kate Kenyon, the wealthy young widow of an English aristocrat killed on a Swiss mountain, has an addiction to mortal risk. She feeds it by engaging in the armed robbery of priceless artefacts with her accomplice and lover Ethan Brand, a Tennessean who owns a bookshop in Zurich. Their latest target is a priceless ‘Byzantine’ icon hidden in the tower of a chateau by Lake Lucerne. So far they have never had to shoot anyone. This time will be different.

iambik audio - Thought You Were Dead by Terry GriggsThought You Were Dead
By Terry Griggs; Read by Gregg Margarite
MP3 or M4B Download – Approx. 7 Hours 42 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: iambik audio
Published: July 15, 2011
Sample |MP3|
Meet the Perfect Man… no, no he’s not the hero of Thought You Were Dead. That would be Chellis Beith, literary researcher, slacker, reluctant detective, and a man bedeviled by every woman in his life. There’s his lost love, Elaine Champion, a now happily married inventor who uses him for market research, his best friend’s dotty ex-wife, Moe, his two vanished mothers, and his menacing boss, Athena Havlock, a celebrated writer who herself becomes embroiled in the dark side of fiction. The humour is wild, the language a thrill, the mystery within marvelously deft and daft. And as for the Perfect Man… well, nothing is as it seems. Is it? Thought You Were Dead is the most unconventional of all murder mysteries, turning the genre completely on its head, by bludgeoning flat language and Puritanical sensibilities with evident glee. This is further evidence that Terry Griggs is sui generis: an original and completely inimitable literary voice, with an eye for the cinematic.

iambik audio - The Vaults by Toby BallThe Vaults
By Toby Ball; Read by Michael Agostini
MP3 or M4B Download – Approx. 9 Hours 5 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: iambik audio
Published: July 15, 2011
Sample |MP3|
In a dystopian 1930s America, a chilling series of events leads three men down a path to uncover their city’s darkest secret. At the height of the most corrupt administration in the City’s history, a mysterious duplicate file is discovered deep within the Vaults—a cavernous hall containing all of the municipal criminal justice records of the last seventy years. From here, the story follows: Arthur Puskis, the Vault’s sole, hermit-like archivist with an almost mystical faith in a system to which he has devoted his life; Frank Frings, a high-profile investigative journalist with a self-medicating reefer habit; and Ethan Poole, a socialist private eye with a penchant for blackmail. All three men will undertake their own investigations into the dark past and uncertain future of the City—calling into question whether their most basic beliefs can be maintained in a climate of overwhelming corruption and conspiracy.

Posted by Jesse Willis

LibriVox: Heidi by Johanna Spyri

June 24, 2010 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

I’m not sure Heidi can be properly classified as an “adventure” novel. But it sure has one adventurous little girl as it’s star! PLUS, Kara Shallenberg’ narration is TRULY OUTSTANDING! She’s got what sounds like an authentic pronunciation for all those Swiss place-names. And, be sure to check out the gorgeously illustrated edition on Gutenberg.org! Here’s an illustration from the edition that my great grand parents gave to my uncle Paul on August 2nd, 1955. It was his birthday present and he had just turned 8 years old.

Heidi by Johanna Spyri

LIBRIVOX - Heidi by Johanna SpyriHeidi
By Johanna Spyri; Translated by Elizabeth P. Stork; Read by Kara Shallenberg
23 Zipped MP3 Files – Approx. 9 Hours 45 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 8, 2006
Hear Heidi if you’ve ever longed to see the Swiss mountain slopes. This story transports the listener from the fine air and freedom of the mountaintop to the confines of Frankfurt, back to the peaks again, bounding in flowered fields with goats at your heels and sky utterly surrounding you.

We meet Heidi when she is 5, led up the mountain by her aunt who has raised the orphan but must leave now for a position in Frankfurt. In a mountain cottage overlooking the valley is Heidi’s grandfather, and there with him the girl’s sweet, free nature expands with the vista. The author’s voice is straightforward, and so is our reader’s, with the child’s wonder, devotion, and sometimes humorous good intentions. When Heidi is taken from the mountains and nearly doesn’t make it back again, the most humorous as well as most heart-wringing scenes occur. All she learns during her absence from the mountain she brings back as seeds that will grow to benefit everyone around her.

Podcast feed: http://librivox.org/bookfeeds/heidi-by-johanna-spyri-solo.xml

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Unincorporated Man by Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin

February 5, 2010 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

TANTOR MEDIA - The Unincorporated Man by Dani Kollin and Eytan KollinThe Unincorporated Man
By Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin; Read by Todd McLaren
2 MP3-CDs – Approx. 24 Hours 30 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Media
Published: May 2009
ISBN: 9781400161720
Themes: / Science Fiction / Utopia / Dystopia / Time Travel / Slavery / Economics / Business / Cryonics / Immortality / Virtual Reality / Philosophy / Law / Alaska / Colorado / Los Angeles / Switzerland / Nanotechnology / Space Elevator /

The Unincorporated Man is a provocative social/political/economic novel that takes place in the future, after civilization has fallen into complete economic collapse. This reborn civilization is one in which every individual is incorporated at birth and spends many years trying to attain control over his or her own life by getting a majority of his or her own shares. Life extension has made life very long indeed. Now the incredible has happened: a billionaire businessman from our time, frozen in secret in the early twenty-first century, is discovered and resurrected, given health and a vigorous younger body. Justin Cord is the only unincorporated man in the world, a true stranger in this strange land. Justin survived because he is tough and smart. He cannot accept only part ownership of himself, even if that places him in conflict with a civilization that extends outside the solar system to the Oort Cloud. People will be arguing about this novel and this world for decades.

Even though I had never heard of the authors I like this book right from the start. The title reminded me of a Philip K. Dick novel called The Unteleported Man. There are probably a whole bunch of SF books following the formula “The (negative attribution) Man”, with The Invisible Man perhaps being the first of them. But there’s a lot more to like about this novel than the title alone. Among the pleasures it brings is good, old-fashioned idea based SF. It has been quite a while since I was so intellectually engaged by a novel’s central premise. And The Unincorporated Man has one. Set on a future Earth The Unincorporated Man is fundamentally different in both tone and scope than most SF novels I’ve read recently. Authors Dani and Eytan Kollin have envisioned a future in which the institution known as “the corporation” has replaced the convention of “person.” When born each child has stock of 1000 shares issued in his or her name. 10 percent of these stocks are held by each parent, the government gets another 5 percent and the rest is held in trust until the age of majority after which the balance of the stock is given to the child-cum-adult. He or she can then sell, or keep his or her stocks as they so desire. Holding a majority of your own stock insures relative autonomy (based on the amount above 50% you hold). The primary difficulty comes when you realize that you’ll need to invest in yourself. If you want an education you’ll need to pay for it. But without an education the pay won’t be much. So, you can either get education money by working at a low-wage job, and deriving whatever profit percentage your current stock level allows, or by selling your stock off for cash. This typically manifests itself in the majority of humanity not owning majority in themselves. With the possibility of living for centuries, thanks to the ubiquitous nanotechnology, you’d be wise to invest in an education. But in so doing you’ll loose control of your majority, and thus perhaps have to work at jobs that your shareholders choose, take vacations when your shareholders agree and generally have your life dictated to you by those that hold your stock. Why not just take the money and loaf? Who cares what the shareholders say? They can’t make you work can they? Well, yes they can. The corporate system is enforced by a forced mental audit that is applicable whenever shareholders think a corporation, who they hold stock in, is committing malfeasance (shirking their job, deliberately getting fired, etc.). Every corporation is trackable, thanks to GPS-like implants, and is thus ultimately accountable to his or her shareholders. It is the ultimate invasive tyranny, a slavery to the bottom line, a profit motive enforced by an invisible hand that you shook a deal with.

But things aren’t all doom and gloom. Those who are lucky enough to have been born with enough money, drive, intelligence, talent or beauty are able to do pretty much whatever they like with their time – that is assuming they don’t loose too much of their stock in luxuries or in judgments rendered against them in civil lawsuits. You can live like a king, wear any kind of clothing you like, read the newsies and travel the world in an endless party. But, as the centuries have rolled past it seems that fewer and fewer people have found it fashionable (or is the correct word possible?) to retain or even re-seek their majority stock. After all, in their nanotechnological society material abundance sees that no-one starves, no-one remains un-housed. Freedom, it seems, is just out of fashion. Enter Justin Cord and his unincorporated status.

I really liked this novel, but it isn’t without a few caveats. I found the fascinating society portrayed to be the most interesting thing about The Unincorporated Man. The characters are all pretty stiff and the problems facing Jason Cord, our hero, were far less interesting than they were useful in exploring this strange new society. Like many novels I review this one suffers most greatly from excessive page count. At 480 pages the novel takes 24.5 hours to listen to. I’d have preferred the novel with a steadier editorial hand. The editor could have done two relatively easy things. First he or she could have cut out a lot of the filler. I’m not just talking about empty sentences, there are many scenes that could have been eliminated or described in just a sentence or two. There are, for instance, two big court cases in this nove. Would it have been impossible to tell this story in one? Second, there was a useless detour along the way. I enjoyed it, but don’t see any reason it was needed in this novel. It could have been easily explored separately, in another novel. Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin wanted to talk about the relatively unexplored idea, a social scourge in the form of really vivid virtual reality. Larry Niven did something similar with his idea of the “tasp,” but that wasn’t exactly VR. If you could live your whole life in an artificial reality that was extremely cheap why wouldn’t you? The answer, cooked up by Kollins, is less persuasive than I’d have hoped. And again it doesn’t really need to be in this particular novel. They foresee a coming global catastrophe created not by ecological destruction, but rather by an addictive technological neuropathology. That’s great, but like I said it doesn’t need to be in this novel. When a false reality is far more enjoyable than a real one why should we care about the real one? Good question. Just don’t ask it here.

Narrator Todd McLaren, who I first encountered in Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon |READ OUR REVIEW|, is very talented. He mispronounce one or two words. “Concomitant.” being one of them. McLaren isn’t called to do many accents here, but he gives voice to a fairly large cast of characters. There are also several scenes in which he is required to portray a man giving impassioned speeches to crowds. These don’t sound like shouts, thankfully, but instead give the impression of a strained voice, speaking so as to be heard.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of FlashForward by Robert J. Sawyer

January 10, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audiobook - Flashforward by Robert J. SawyerFlashForward
By Robert J. Sawyer; Read by Mark Deakins
9 CDs – Approx. 10.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2009
ISBN: 1433252945
Themes: / Science Fiction / Hard SF / Time Travel / Disaster / Physics / Toronto / CERN / Murder / Mystery / Switzerland /
A scientific experiment begins, and as the button is pressed, the unexpected occurs: everyone in the world goes to sleep for a few moments while everyone’s consciousness is catapulted more than twenty years into the future. At the end of those moments, when the world reawakens, all human life is transformed by foreknowledge. Was that shocking revelation a peek at the real, unalterable future, or was it only one of many possible futures? What happens when a man tries to change it, like the doctor who has twenty years to try to prevent his own murder? How will the foreknowledge of a part of “then” affect the experience of the “now”?

This is the sixth Robert J. Sawyer novel that I have enjoyed. But, I didn’t get into it via the usual route. I started watching the TV series without explicitly knowing that it was an audiobook, that it was by Robert J. Sawyer, or that the novel even existed. But after seeing the TV series go into a mid-season hiatus I discovered the novel, and decided this was the perfect chance to read the story upon which it was based. Having seen the first half of the first season, and having read the novel, I recommend that you don’t watch any of the FlashForward TV series until you have read the audiobook. Both are really good and worthy, but different. The TV show is not spoiled by the audiobook, but seeing how it was adapted should add some value. The novel veers towards Hard SF, whilst the TV show is more of a Hollywood drama with SF leanings.

I personally found a couple of blemishes in the novel’s story that may only bother a few others. George Bernard Shaw and I agree that your particular country is not that interesting just because you were born there. I can understand mentioning TRIUMF and the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, they are useful to the plot and interesting. But the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC)? I ride it every day, and I don’t care. This and a few other Canada Canada Canada details are like being beaten with a Canadian hockey stick. Does the truly “True Great North” need to be bragged about? How un-Canadian. Another quibble, for me, was Sawyer use of John A. Wheeler’s Participatory Anthropic Principle, where things exist only when observed by a consciousness. I cannot fathom anybody believing this anthropocentric twaddle, the idea should be banished like the dark matter, astrology, and celestial spheres. Humans are neither that powerful nor that important.

Despite these quibbles FlashForward has an obliging rationalistic science slant. Consistency reigns. If you like to hear scientists with reasonable amounts of emotions talking, this book is for you. The conversations were what I expect from physicists. The visions of the future, caused by the flashforwards of the title, were very down to earth and believable. The audiobook also mixes in a modicum of mystery, via a future “who done it.” I predicted some of the events and was pleasantly surprised by others in this not-too-long a story. The ending, though plausible, did not unfurl as I had expected.

Narrator Mark Deakins gave a realistic delivery. His only error being when he twice mis-pronunced “Dyson” with the accent incorrectly on the last syllable, as in “Die-sown.” FlashForward is definitely worth a listen.