Review of The Year’s Top Short SF Novels 6

December 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

The Year's Top Short SF Novels 6The Year’s Top Short SF Novels 6
Edited by Allan Kaster; Narrated by Tom Dheere and Nancy Linari
16 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Infinivox
Publication Date: December 2016
Themes: / Science Fiction / Novellas / The Moon / Time / Clones / Starships /

The Year’s Top Short SF Novels 6, edited by Allan Kaster, is an audio anthology containing five science fiction novellas from 2015. It’s a diverse, entertaining, and thought-provoking collection, and very well narrated!

Inhuman Garbage by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
I’ve enjoyed Rusch’s Disappeared series since the first novella was published (The Retrieval Artist, 2000). I haven’t the time to keep up with all the novels Rusch has written in the series since but every one I have read has been excellent, including this short one. In a warehouse in a city on the Moon in Rusch’s robust future world, a body has been discovered in a recycling crate. Detective Noelle DeRicci is called in on the case. The story is a perfect blend of SF and mystery fiction.

What Has Passed Shall in Kinder Light Appear by Bao Shu (translated by Ken Liu)
This was an interesting thought experiment. We humans live our lives in a linear fashion, cause preceding effect after effect after effect. The story attempts to portray people living linearly, but in reverse. We see history passing backwards as characters live their lives. Interesting.

The New Mother by Eugene Fischer
Imagine a disease with an effect that allows women to reproduce without men. Offspring are clones, since the genetic material has only one source. Men are no longer part of the process. The idea of men becoming extinct brings past stories to mind, like James Tiptree Jr’s “The Screwfly Solution”. The New Mother is a story that leaves the listener with a lot to think about.

Gypsy by Carter Scholz
I was fascinated by this story about a group of people that decide to take it upon themselves to build a ship, get aboard, and launch to Alpha Centauri. The story is told by various characters who wake up from their long sleeps to do various tasks. How did such a group pull this off? And how far can the group get? Well-written, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Citadel of Weeping Pearls by Aliette de Bodard
There is a lot going on in this novella, the longest in the collection. A rich and interesting culture. Mindships, where minds are installed in and control ships. Uploaded minds of previous emperors that serve as advisors to the current emperor. Terrific. Just a beautiful story.

This anthology is also available as an ebook.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Locke and Key (audio drama)

October 7, 2015 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Audio Drama - Locke and KeyLocke and Key
By Joe Hill; adapted by Elaine Lee and Frederick Greenhalgh
Performed by a Full Cast
13.5 Hours – [AUDIO DRAMA]
Produced by: AudioComics for Audible Studios
Published: 2015
Themes: / Horror / Magic / Demons / Magic Places /

I was thrilled when I heard that the team at AudioComics was adapting Joe Hill (writer) and Gabriel Rodriguez’ (artist) series of Locke and Key graphic novels as audio drama. I’m even happier now that I’ve heard it – this is high quality stuff. I love audio drama! Time to add Locke and Key to the list of reasons why.

Locke and Key tells the story of the Locke family, who moved into the family home in Lovecraft, Massachusetts after a tragedy. Teenagers Tyler Locke (played by Brennan Lee Mulligan) and Kinsey Locke (Jaime Alyse Andrews), younger brother Bode (Betsey Kenney), and their troubled mother Nina (Lisa Stathoplos) live in the house, which has a name: Keyhouse. Once there, the young Bode starts to find keys, each one of which has a special magical power. As the story progresses, the Lockes find themselves protecting the keys from the likes of a killer named Sam Lesser (Haley Joel Osment) and the terrifying demon Dodge, chillingly portrayed by Tatiana Maslany and Ian Alan Carlsen.

The story is both fascinating and horrifying, combining familiar haunted house elements with the surprising magic of the keys. Friendship, betrayal, good and evil, excellent writing, deep characters… it’s a great story as a graphic novel, and this production successfully captures it, the flawless cast and rich sound adding a new and welcome dimension to the whole.

Like I always do with good audio drama, I listened to this with good headphones. There’s a striking depth to the sound in this production. You don’t get the feeling that the actors are standing around in a room reading a script. It’s easy to believe a scene is happening in a cave, or in a house, or outside at night, or wherever. The harder you listen to the background, the more detail you hear. This was achieved by recording the actors on location, as if they were filming a movie. Check out the Featurette at the bottom of the review to see Bill Dufris (director) and Frederick Greenhalgh record groups of actors. The result is so natural. It’s marvelous.

Sound effects are used as well, but don’t dominate the production. I particularly liked the sounds used to convey the use of various keys, and the enhancement of actor’s voices, which was genuinely chilling! The score (by Peter Van Riet) is also well done. I found myself looking forward to the theme.

I had high hopes for this production and they were all met and often exceeded. I would love to hear more of this kind of thing! In the meantime, I’ll be listening to this one again.

This production contains dramatizations of all six Locke and Key graphic novels:
Book 1: Welcome to Lovecraft
Book 2: Head Games
Book 3: Crown of Shadows
Book 4: Keys to the Kingdom
Book 5: Clockworks
Book 6: Alpha and Omega

It’s available FREE from Audible until November. | GET YOUR COPY HERE |

And the Featurette I mentioned above:

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Locke and Key, now an audio drama (and FREE)

October 5, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, News 

SFFaudio News

Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’ Locke and Key graphic novel series has been adapted as an audio drama by AudioComics for Audible. And it’s free this month! CLICK HERE.

At 13.5 hours long, this contains the dramatization of ALL SIX of the Locke and Key graphic novels, starting with Welcome to Lovecraft and ending with Alpha and Omega.

LockeKey

##scott

Review of Worldbinder by David Farland

July 23, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
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SFFaudio Review

Fantasy - Worldbinder by David FarlandWorldbinder, The Runelords, Book 6
By David Farland; Read by Ray Porter
11.7 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2012

Themes: / Fantasy / Epic Fantasy / Magic / Supernatural /

After the events of Sons of the Oak, Fallion and Jaz, the sons of the great Earth King Gaborn, are living as fugitives in their own kingdom, newly invaded and secretly controlled by supernatural beings of ultimate evil. The sons are hiding until they can regain their rightful places in the land.

The book opens with Shadowath and Lady Despair setting a trap for Fallion Van Orden by using The One True Tree as bait.

The world that Fallion and his friends, Rhianna, Talon and Jaz return to is one of corruption and darkness. People using any means to usurp power and control others. It’s a world grown dark after the death of the Earth King, Gaborn Val Orden. But Fallion hopes to mend the world by combining it with another.

Sadly, this is exactly what Lady Despair wanted. The two shadow worlds are falling into darkness. The one Fallion knew where humans were turning to greed and corruption, using their Runelord powers to force their will on the people, and the other shadow world where the Warrior Clan fought the evil Wyrmlings who served Lady Despair and wished to destroy all things good, including nature itself.

Fallion, Jaz, Talon and Rhianna must find allies and forge new alliances to combat the Wyrmling threat and save both worlds from Despair.

Like Brotherhood of the Wolf, this is a dark book that leads the main characters into untenable situations. The story goes from bad to worse. And yet, you are left with the hope that all is not lost and that the worlds may yet be saved.

I admit that I had a very hard time with the ending of this book. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I do not generally like dark stories, but the characters and story are so compelling, so well-written, that I found myself continuing with the story.

It is not all dark. Like all good tales there are ups and downs, victories and losses. This book has more losses than victories, but in the Hero’s Journey, loss is a necessary part of growth and Fallion must grow to become The Light Bringer.

Ray Porter does a wonderful job pulling you into the story and holding your attention. I’ve enjoyed listening to his telling of the tale.

Like all of the Runelords books, I recommend this one. As long as you go in knowing it’s part of a series and that the dark times prophesied in the first series are now here, it’s a great story.

The book can be read as a stand-alone, but I think reading it as a series is much better as you get the entire saga.

I give this book a 4. It sucks you in. I’m reminded of the trip to Moria in Lord of the Rings. It’s dark and gets darker, but I have great hope that all will end well.

Posted by Charlene Harmon

Review of The Diamond of Jeru by Louis L’Amour

July 22, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama 

SFFaudio Review

Audio Drama - Louis L'Amour's The Diamond of JeruThe Diamond of Jeru
By Louis L’Amour; Performed by a Full Cast
3 hours – [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Themes: / Audio Drama / Adventure / Magic / Fantasy / Pulp /

There were times Mike Kardec thought he could feel the magic of this place, a vague sense that just beyond his perception vast but subtle forces were at work… there was power out there, a great organic engine of death and rebirth.

Louis L’Amour (1908 – 1988) is best known for his Western novels, but for a long time I knew him only for a couple of his non-westerns. Last of the Breed (1986) was about a Native American pilot downed in Russia during the Cold War, and The Walking Drum (1984), a historical novel set in the 12th century. Later I read The Lonesome Gods (1983), which, though there were gunfights and horses, I assumed was still one of L’Amour’s atypical works. I enjoyed all of the above, which is why I greeted The Diamond of Jeru with a smile. L’Amour is a fine storyteller.

The Diamond of Jeru is also not a Western. It’s set in Borneo in 1955, where our hero Mike Kardec (played by Joel Bryant) finds himself after the Korean War. He is hired by a Helen and John Lacklan (Traci Dinwiddlie and Time Winters) to guide them deep into the island to find a diamond. There’s a touch of magic in the story, so I’d call it a fantasy adventure.

It’s presented as a “Dramatized Audio”, which I would describe as a rich audio drama with heavy narration. Joe Morton is the narrator, which is terrific because I can’t hear enough of that guy. He was perfect in some of Simon and Schuster’s Star Trek audio titles, and is excellent again here. In fact, all of the actors in this are top notch. This cast is among the highest quality group of actors I’ve ever heard doing audio drama.

On the video page of The Diamond of Jeru Audio Project site, Writer/Director Beau L’Amour and Producer/Editor Paul O’Dell discuss the making of the sound effects. Their methods sound excellent in the final production. I haven’t heard any other titles by this skilled team, but I’d love to hear one in which they rely more on the superb sound than on narration to establish setting and action. The sound had a very deep quality. Nothing out of place here.

The story retained much of the pulp quality of the original story, which was welcome. The website has an audio sample as well as a history of the story, which was written sometime in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s by Louis L’Amour, then revised and expanded to novella length by Beau L’Amour. The original, unedited story can be found |HERE|.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

[audio drama] Review of In the Embers

June 16, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama 

SFFaudio Review

Audio Drama - In the EmbersIn the Embers
A Great Northern Audio Theatre Production
Written, Directed, and Produced by Brian Price and Jerry Stearns
[AUDIO DRAMA] – 1 Hour, 19 Minutes
Published: 2015
Themes: / Audio Drama / time / archaeology / jazz / quantum physics /

A song, a pressed flower, and the sound of two girl’s voices recovered from a burned wooden beam by using a laser to read its charred surface like the grooves of an old 78rpm record. These are the clues that archaeologist, Digger Morgan, discovers while working on a routine Maryland plantation dig. Who were the girls? When was the fire? The answers all lead to 1920s jazz pioneer, Kit Jeffers, whose voice mysteriously appears on Digger’s computer, and whose existence remains haunted by a singular tragic event.

The first sounds offered by this wonderful work of audio drama are the broken haunting voices of two people trying to escape a barn fire. I can hear them as I type this. The voices were impressed on charred barn beams until archaeologist Digger Morgan discovered a way to read them with a laser. Hearing those voices was a powerful moment for me, a moment in which I not only felt the emotion of two people trapped in a fire, but also in which I considered the possibility of strong emotion leaving an imprint on our surroundings.

“In the Embers” doesn’t shy away from considering the implications either. In fact, this fine work of science fiction goes even further. How large an imprint could one leave? And could emotion somehow be transmitted through time? What would be the effect?

The story is excellent, the music is excellent, the audio quality is excellent, and so are the actors. Robin Miles as Kit Jeffers was particularly outstanding. From the riveting opening to the emotional closing scene, this is a drama that goes in the permanent collection. I’ll be listening to this again, no question.

“In the Embers” premiered at last weekend’s HEAR Now Festival in Kansas City, and will be broadcast on Sound Affects over two weeks – June 21 and 28.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

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