Review of Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

January 16, 2013 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Ready Player OneReady Player One
By Ernest Cline; Read by Wil Wheaton
15 hours 46 minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: 2011
ISBN: 0307913147

Themes: / video games / treasure hunt / 1980’s / virtual reality /

(Since this was reviewed previously on the site, you can view the earlier review for summary and MP3 sample.)

Ready Player One is pure nerd candy, geek heaven, or whatever you want to call it – it was an experience I couldn’t stop if I wanted to and didn’t want to end.

It usually takes me quite a while to get through an audiobook and that’s usually because I only listen to it at certain points of my day – when I’m in the car or walking to or from a new destination. Otherwise, I either have other commitments or other reading material.

I listened to Ready Player One in about 3 days. That’s unprecedented for me.  I couldn’t stop myself, it was too good. I’d listen to it in the car, then on the way, then I’d get there and have to listen to just a bit more. Soon, it was my entire lunch break, before bed, EVERY SPARE MOMENT!

In the near future, 2044, everyone’s connected to the OASIS, a virtual reality that lets you guide your avatar through a virtual world filled with a myriad of planets, games, and experiences. You can go to school, order a pizza (which gets routed to your local pizza joint of choice), and participate in other…adult activities.

The creator of the OASIS, is, of course, a mega-billionaire and our story begins with a short video (description) of James Halliday’s last will and testament…an elaborate egg-hunt designed to give everything to the one who can find the three keys and pass through the three gates already programmed into the OASIS.

Halliday was obsessed with the ’80s and promises that those who share his obsession are the only ones who have a chance.

This is the perfect example of write what you know. Cline’s created a future obsessed with the ’80s, the hairdos, the clothing, the games, everything. I was surprised by how much I knew given I spent less than a decade in that era and none of it paying attention to pop culture that’s for sure. Eighties knowledge is, however, icing on the cake, but far from necessity.

We follow Wade Watts in his journey as a gunter (egg hunter) as he finds time and means to get online, even amidst the squalor that is his home life, at least as long as he can get away without his Aunt trying to pawn all his stuff.

Wade begins the story in school, taking classes (mostly those that will help him on the hunt) and arguing with friends and foes alike over the best episodes of Family Ties and other Halliday discoveries.

Like many people on the OASIS, especially those in school, Wade is a geeky kid who doesn’t have too many friends and do I even need to mention his way (or lack of way) with women? Probably not.

While mostly a fun adventure with riddles and puzzles, fighting and leveling up, Ready Player One explores what is actual reality – do you have to do things in person or is it the feelings you get? And if so, can’t you get it all online?

The Audio Experience

Did I mention Wil Wheaton reads this here audiobook? Overall, he’s perfect for this. The quintessential nerd talking about dungeons and dragons and classic ’80s pop culture and video games. At one point, he even gets to mention his own name, how fun would that be?

His reading, however, isn’t all rainbows and fizzlepops. He reads a bit slow at times and en-un-ciates some words too slowly as well. The problem is that awkward silences (though very short) take away from the reading and pull you out of the story, making you realize someone’s just reading out loud to you instead of taking you to a far-off world. Rest assured, these problems were only toward the beginning of the story and did not last throughout.

Ready Player One is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory meets The Matrix, an instant classic right up there with Ender’s Game. Ready Player One is the best prediction of our future I’ve ever witnessed. Space ships and alien encounters? Yeah right. We’ll all be online.

5 out of 5 Stars (Brilliant!)

Review by Bryce L.

The SFFaudio Podcast #111

June 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #111 – Scott and Jesse talk with Luke Burrage and Tamahome about the latest releases.

Talked about on today’s show:

name order??, James Powell’s Last Laugh In Flugal Park, Greg Bear’s Halo: Cryptum book, game tie-ins with popular authors, Tobias Buckell’s The Cole Protocol (Halo, #6), Peter Watts Crysis: Legion, Larry Niven’s Ringworld, Hull Zero Three, “in spaaace”, Tim Powers’s The Stress Of Her Regard, “short books”, towel on Luke’s head, George Alec Effinger’s When Gravity Fails, no ebook to speak of, published in 198x?, the game Circuits Edge, Infocom, Beneath A Steel Sky, “comic book look”, comic book artist Dave Gibbons (Watchmen), more game tie-ins, Terry (Monty Python) Jones’s Douglas Adams’s Starship Titanic, Jeff Vandermeer’s Halo story Mona Lisa, from the Halo: Evolutions anthology, motion comic adaption, Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter’s First Born (A Time Odyssey, #3), Civilization/Evolution, The Light Of Other Days, Bob Shaw, loss of privacy, “slow glass”, spoiler alert!, Poul Anderson’s Broken Sword, Yggrdsil (hear it pronounced), contemporary of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship Of The Ring, Isaac Marion’s Warm Bodies, the audiobook cover, David Friedman on Luke’s new podcast, “everything comes back to zombies”, Alden Bell’s The Reapers Are The Angels discussed on Scott and Julie’s podcast, Luke’s feedback, “email you when I’m dead”, Daniel Suarez’s Daemon, Mark Russinovich’s Zero Day, Edward Wellen’s Mind Slash Matter, |OUR REVIEW|, P.D. James’s Children Of Men, |READ OUR REVIEW|, Fred Hoyle’s The Black Cloud, “sciency”, John Brunner’s The Crucible Of Time, M.P. Shiel’s The Purple Cloud, it’s not about Prince, the Songbird audiodrama from the Radio Repertory Company of America, Harlan Ellison’s The Voice From The Edge #4 & #5 on sale, includes this year’s award winner How Interesting A Tiny Man, John Scalzi’s Fuzzy Nation, H. Beam Piper’s Little Fuzzy, a 2-fer, Old Man’s War, which 1/3 do you like?, “I’m a sucker for new bodies”, Albert Brooks’s 2030: The Real Story Of What Happens To America, the film Defending Your Life, Will McIntosh’s Soft Apocalypse, George R. Stewart’s Earth Abides is also soft, Brent Weeks’s short Perfect Shadow is on Graphicaudio too, Valley Of The Dead: The Truth Behind Dante’s Inferno by Kim Paffenroth, Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven’s Inferno — sf writer tries to explain hell, the remix generation, Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines, “I Am Legend with superheroes”, A. Lee Martinez’s oeuvre, Sleeper: Season One the comic book, Mark Millar’s Trouble, Edgar Rice Burroughs, “the estate works for their money”, Luke talks to a comic book artist, SF Keyword Bingo

DARK HORSE PRESENTS - How Interesting A Tiny Man by Harlan Ellison

Posted by Tamahome

The SFFaudio Podcast #106

May 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #106 – Jesse and Tamahome talk about audiobooks, books, comic books, movies and technology.

Talked about on today’s show:
Scott is away, Warrior Race by Robert Sheckley, the guilt tactic, Robert Sheckley’s The Victim From Space, M. Night Shamylan, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Star Trek: The Next Generation, the limits of sympathy and empathy, Lethal Weapon, civil disobedience, Ghandi, Ahisma, Gregg Margarite, Lauren Bacall, the future of self-published ebooks and curation, SFsignal’s anthology reviews, novels vs short stories, LibriVox, rating systems, Gil T. Wilson, SFSite, Avatar, Coraline, The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman’s narration, William Gibson, Where is the Neuromancer audiobook?, The Matrix, What is noir in film or books?, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Memento, a podcast about noir films (Noircast.net), Limitless aka (The Dark Fields) movie vs book, director Neil Berger, The Illusionist, The Prestige, Christopher Priest, Existenz, WWW: Wake, WWW: Wonder, Robert J. Sawyer, many spoilers in this podcast, Sawyer’s next novel is Triggers, research then write, the Webmind, Jesse doesn’t like series (usually), the ‘talking Dinosaur’ series (the Quintaglio Ascension series), is the WWW series YA?, Cory Doctorow, characters, Golden Fleece is a murder mystery in space, more dino, would anyone make the dinosaur series into a 3D animated film?, Robert J. Sawyer’s Rollback was on CBC Radio One’s Between The Covers podcast, Galileo’s Dream, Red Mars, Michio Kaku, futurism, climate change, Pacific Edge by Kim Stanley Robinson, can a domestic story be thrilling?, Austin Powers, “one million dollars!”, the trap of inflating the stakes, Tim Pratt on Dragon Page podcast (7½ minutes in), the ‘speech thriller’, what’s in the suitcase?, Kiss Me Deadly, “make each sentence do two things”, Midnight Riot (aka Rivers Of London), British lingo, “snog”, series and trends at bookstores, Peter Watts‘s openness, Flashforward TV show, The Gong Show, bring back the hook, Crysis 2: Legion the novel and the game, the economics of hard covers vs ebooks, Kindle openness, the VLC app was removed from the iTunes App store, the Android OS, Embedded, ROM person, the Comics Code Authority repealed!, Mark Millar, Nemesis, The Ultimates, Ex Machina, Chronicles Of Wormwood, Garth Ennis, Howard The Duck, death of superheroes, Superman left America (Action Comics #900), “truth, justice, and the American way”, Superman: Red Son, Battlefields, The Boys, The Punisher with the guy from Hung (Thomas Jane), Warren Ellis wrote a novel (Crooked Little Vein), can we make Peter Watts audiobooks?, synthesized voices on archive.org, Linux for all e-readers, Philip K. Dick, The Electric Ant comic, Tom Merritt, Sword and Laser, TWIT, Munchcast.

far seer

Archie Comics with and without the Comics Code Authority

Posted by Tamahome

The SFFaudio Podcast #045

December 21, 2009 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Audio Drama, New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #045 – Jesse and Scott are joined by the ghost of Xmas future as they talk about audiobooks, video games, audio drama and lots more. Jesse even reveals an earth shattering bit of trivia about Vincent Price (you’ll never guess it) and what he thinks is clearly “the greatest joke ever.”

Talked about on today’s show:
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Drood by Dan Simmons, The Terror, James Powell, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, The Black Whatever by James Powell, Richard Stark, NPR, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore (as done in the style of Earnest Hemingway), The Hemingway Hoax by Joe Haldeman |READ OUR REVIEW|, Joe Haldeman to be named a Grand Master of Science Fiction, The Best Cigarette by Billy Collins, iTunes U, The Hilarious House Of Frightenstein, Vincent Price, Paul K. Willis (Jesse’s uncle), Rumors And Boarders, Vancouver is the American Science Fiction TV mecca, Arctic exploration, the Northwest Passage, The Illustrated History Of British Columbia by Terry Reksten, Sir Francis Drake‘s secret mission, Queen Elizabeth I, Juan de Fuca, Captain James Cook, Captain George Vancouver, Patrick O’Brian meets Edgar Allan Poe and J.M.W. Turner, Simon Vance, recent arrivals, audio drama, The H.P. Lovecraft Radio Hour Vol. 1, LovecraftRadio.com, The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, Dagon, Blackstone Audio, Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold, Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold |READ OUR REVIEW|, The Reader’s Chair, Audible.com, Dean Koontz, Hideaway by Dean Koontz, our DEAN KOONTZ AUTHOR PAGE, Dragon Tears by Dean Koontz, Jay O. Sanders, The Day After Tomorrow, Rogue Berzerker by Fred Saberhagen, The Adventure Of The Metal Murderer, time travel, Sherlock Holmes, Wings Out Of Shadow, DH Audio, Manfred von Richthofen, Hermann Göring, Paul Michael Garcia, Berzerker Fury, Empire Of The East by Fred Saberhagen |READ OUR REVIEW|, Willie Wonka!, Penguin Audio, Fire by Kristin Cashore, Full Cast Audio, Graceling by Kristin Cashore, Macmillan Audio, Hidden Empire by Orson Scott Card, Shadow Complex, side-scrolling video games, Peter David, the attempt to boycott Orson Scott Card’s video games, casual gamers vs. hard core gamers, Fallout 3, Medal Of Honor, DRM, copyfight, They’re Made Of Meat by Terry Bisson (adapted by FredOSphere), Seeing Ear Theatre, J. Michael Straczynski’s City Of Dreams (available via ThePirateBay.org), Towing Jehovah by James Morrow, Luke Burrage‘s Science Fiction Book Review Podcast (reviewing Anathem by Neal Stephenson), William Dufris, Sci Fi Song’s The Ballad Of Wilson Cole, Mike Resnick’s Starship series, FREE Ringworld by Larry Niven, Grover Gardner IS Tom Parker, New Releases, Audible Frontiers, William Gibson, Burning Chrome, Mona Lisa Overdrive, Jonathan Davis, All Tomorrow’s Parties, The Telling by Ursula K. Le Guin, The Word For World Is Forest, Book Of The Road, The Unpleasant Profession Of Jonathan Hoag by Robert A. Heinlein , The Day Of The Triffids by John Wyndham, The Chrysalids, David Weber‘s Honor Harrington series, The Plague Of The Dead by Z.A Recht, a zombie plague that makes people: calm, reasonable, rational and peaceful?, Macmillian Audio, A Deepness In the Sky by Vernor Vinge, the Blake’s 7 Audio Adventures series is now on Audible.com!, space opera, social Science Fiction, Robin Hood, Babylon 5, Brave New World, 1984, Memoirs From A Bathtub by Stanislaw Lem, Terry Gilliam, Twelve Monkeys, Philip K. Dick, Franz Kafka, Tantor Media, The Unincorporated Man by Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin, Stranger In A Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein, deep exploration of ideas in fiction, Todd McLaren, Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan |READ OUR REVIEW|, the Prometheus Award, libertarianism, Collapse by Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs And Steel, Easter Island, Hawaii, Montana, Greenland, ecosystems, The Teaching Company, World War II: A Military and Social History by Thomas Childers, A Military History of WWII by Trevor Nevitt Dupuy Col. U.S. Army, Ret., Italian Frogmen in WWII, Benito Mussolini.

Vincent Price with Paul K. Willis on the set of The Hilarious House Of Frightenstein

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Diabolic Playhouse by Roger Gregg

January 17, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Reviews 

Crazy Dog Audio Theatre - Diabolic PlayhouseDiabolic Playhouse
Written, directed, and produced by Roger Gregg
1 MP3-CD – 6 hours [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Crazy Dog Audio Theatre
Published: 2004
Themes: / Fantasy / Pirates / Wild West / Magic / Ghosts / Dark Comedy / Video games / Poetry /

Where do I start with this? How about here: Crazy Dog’s Diabolic Playhouse is an absolute treasure for fans of audio drama. The scripts are smart, funny, and tightly written. The acting is believable, well-timed, and often hilarious. And it sounds terrific! Each drama included is one hour long, as opposed to the half-hour shows in Crazy Dog’s previous The Apocalypse of Bill Lizard, which allows the Diabolic Playhouse shows a depth that was hinted at in the shorter dramas. Roger Gregg has really stepped onto a different playing field with these productions, and I for one am eager to hear his next project, whatever it might be.

There are six audio dramas here:

Demons of the Deep
A saga of seductive serpents in the salty sea.
First up is “Demons of the Deep”, a farcical comedy that had me laughing out loud. The crew of the ocean-going vessel Sea Nymph head out to Rig 39, where not a survivor survived the evil that lurked. In a particularly hilarious scene, three men take the Detritus 3, a tiny sub, down into the deep. I’ll never again be in a cramped space with two other men without thinking of this scene… not that that occurs with any regularity.

The Irishman: Have Troll Will Travel
A fable of magic and firearms in the wicked wild west.
Another successful comedy in which an Irishman living in the Old West calls on the services of a magical troll whenever he finds trouble. One day, the troll is stolen, and off the Irishman goes to find it.

Bus 13B to Hell
A fantastical fable of desperate dreams and dark desires.
It was while listening to this one that I truly realized how great these dramas really are. The actors are brilliant (including guest Phil Proctor of Firesign Theatre) and the sound of it all showcases the storytelling power of audio drama. Cyril (as performed by Morgan Jones, who appears in all six of the productions) guides the story as memorable characters board Bus 13B, which breaks down. They end up at this place where the Accountant of the Universe shows up, and… are you getting all this?

Press 3
A dialectically demonic dream of constant repetition.
I’m still thinking about this one days later. It’s a moebius strip of a drama where a woman is having difficulty dealing with a totalitarian system. Consumerism, bureaucracy, and color-coded alert systems are all fodder for Gregg and his actors, who completely succeeded pulling me into this place only to make me realize that I already live there.

The Silver Tongued Devil
A documentary of poetry, pretension, and possession.
This entire piece is done like a radio documentary, NPR-style, complete with interviews of average people about the “Silver Tongued Devil”. The actors who did these segments were perfect! If I had listened to this on the radio without knowing that Crazy Dog had done it, I’d have thought it was news. Who is the “Silver Tongued Devil”? He’s an incredibly famous poet from Cork who has the god-like ability to make people swoon with his words. Again, the piece is multi-layered, achieving both hilarity and poignancy.

Gerry in the Dark Passage
A story of a virtual man who lost his virtual way.
Gerry is thirty-something, single, and works in a comic shop. Much to his girlfriend’s chagrin, he plays a lot of video games, often losing track of time. After accepting the challenge of a master gameplayer, Gerry starts losing much more than time in this powerful drama.

Diabolic Playhouse is a must-have collection from Crazy Dog Audio Theatre, who BBC Radio counted among the “most imaginative producers of radio drama in the English speaking world.” You can find this on Crazy Dog’s website, which is based in Ireland. If you are in the United States, you can pick it up at ZBS.

Remarkable!

Posted by Scott D. Danielson