Review of The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher

September 29, 2015 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review
The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim ButcherThe Aeronaut’s Windlass (The Cinder Spires #1)
By Jim Butcher; Narrated by Euan Morton
Imprint: Penguin Audio
Release Date: September 29, 2015
[UNABRIDGED] – 21 Hours and 30 Minutes

Themes: / steampunk / magic / airship / fantasy /

Publisher summary:

Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses have ruled for generations, developing scientific marvels, fostering trade alliances, and building fleets of airships to keep the peace.

Captain Grimm commands the merchant ship, Predator. Fiercely loyal to Spire Albion, he has taken their side in the cold war with Spire Aurora, disrupting the enemy’s shipping lines by attacking their cargo vessels. But when the Predator is severely damaged in combat, leaving captain and crew grounded, Grimm is offered a proposition from the Spirearch of Albion—to join a team of agents on a vital mission in exchange for fully restoring Predator to its fighting glory.

And even as Grimm undertakes this dangerous task, he will learn that the conflict between the Spires is merely a premonition of things to come. Humanity’s ancient enemy, silent for more than ten thousand years, has begun to stir once more. And death will follow in its wake.

Executive Summary: Fast paced action, interesting world building, memorable characters, cool magic system. In a word: fun!

Audio book: This one was coming in with a high bar to meet. Mr. Butcher’s popular Dresden Files gets amazing performances by James Marsters. Meanwhile his Codex Alera series is done by the excellent Kate Reading.

So how does Euan Morton stack up? I’m happy to report quite well. I’ve had this pre-ordered in hardcover for months, but I think I may stick with audio if he continues as the narrator. Great voices and inflections that adds that little extra something that make an audio a great option for this book.

Full Review
Jim Butcher is my favorite author. I discovered him about 8 years ago, and quickly devoured his Dresden Files books. Then I moved right into his Codex Alera series. For three blissful years there was a Dresden Files book in April and a Codex Alera book in December.

Upon completing Codex Alera, Mr. Butcher’s pace seemed to slow. I found the books as good as ever, or possibly even better, just far less frequent. At first it may anger fans of the Dresden Files that Mr. Butcher is writing something else. I’m here to tell you it shouldn’t.

This book is excellent. I’d be surprised if any fans of Mr. Butcher don’t also enjoy this. And hey, maybe writing two series at the same time will get us more excellent books to enjoy in a shorter period of time. It seems to have worked well for him in the past.

When I first heard of this series, my initial reaction was, Steampunk? Really? I must admit that I never really saw the appeal. I haven’t read a lot of the genre, but what little I had read until recently didn’t seem to be for me. My second thought was Well, I’d read Jim Butcher Twilight fan fiction if that’s what he wanted to write.

The action starts almost right from the beginning. The pace is furious, with very few points of slowing. There was never a good stopping point in my listening and I always hated to put it down. To me that’s what separates a 5 star rating from a solid 4.

We are quickly introduced to several characters. First we meet Gwen Lancaster, a young noblewoman determined to join the Spire Ark’s guard. I had a bit of a mixed reaction to her. There were times I found her frustrating, but it’s good to have a variety of characters, and Gwen helps to round things out nicely.

Next we meet Grim, the Captain of the airship Predator and various members of his crew. Grim is very much of the vein of Harry Dresden, though I see bit of Bernard from Codex Alera in him as well. He’s easily likeable, but far from the best character in my opinion.

Bridget Targwen and her cat Rawl come next. Both are fantastic, especially Rawl. All of the cats are excellent, but especially Rawl. Mr. Butcher’s cats are a bit reminiscent to me of those in Robin Hobb’s Tawny Man Trilogy. He seems to nail cats exactly. And apparently the internet is crazy for cats, so instant bestseller, right?

Finally we meet Master Etherialist Ferris, and his apprentice Folly. Folly is absolutely my favorite! She reminds me a bit of Luna Lovegood. All of her scenes are highly entertaining. She’s probably considered more of a secondary character to the first three, but I hope she continues to play a large role in the future books.

And if that’s not enough there are several other secondary and tertiary characters that are all quite good, such as Gwen’s cousin Benedict, members of the Predator: Creedy, Kettle and Journeyman and the Spire Ark himself: Lord Albion.

The antagonists are a bit cartoonish at times, especially Cavendish, but the two main Auroan soldiers felt more nuanced though.

This story is very character-driven, but Mr. Butcher has created a pretty interesting world for them to inhabit. There is very little steam powered anything though. Instead the main resource of note are Ethereal crystals. They power everything from Airships to hand weapons referred to as gauntlets.

Explanations for the world and magic systems are slowly metered out as the book goes on, but there were thankfully few info dumps. Or if there were, I was too busy enjoying myself to notice.

The book is fairly well self contained. Things end in a pretty good spot, especially considering this is the first book in a series. There are plenty of questions left to be answered, but most of the main conflicts of this book are either resolved, or put on hold nicely.

Overall if you enjoy Mr. Butcher other work, or enjoy character-driven faced paced action packed stories, pick this one up. You won’t regret it.

Now I will once again eagerly have to await the next book in two series by Mr. Butcher, much like when I first discovered him. How lucky for us all!

Review by Rob Zak.

Review of The Age Atomic by Adam Christopher

August 16, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

The Age AtomicThe Age Atomic (Empire State #2)
By Adam Christopher; Performed by Phil Gigante
Publisher: Brilliance Audio[UNABRIDGED] – 10 hours

Themes: / parallel universe / urban fantasy / superheroes / detectives / noir / airships /

Publisher summary:

The Fissure connecting the alternate New York to its counterpart has vanished, plunging the city into a deep freeze. The people are demanding a return to Prohibition and rationing as energy supplies dwindle. Meanwhile, in the real 1954 New York, the political dynamic has changed. Nimrod finds his department subsumed by a radical new group, Atoms For Peace, led by the mysterious Evelyn McHale. Their goal is simple: total conquest – or destruction – of the Empire State. Adam Christopher returns with the thermonuclear sequel to Empire State – the superhero-noir fantasy thriller set in the other New York.

The Age Atomic continues where Empire State left off. Some time has passed since the events of Empire State but the fissure has disappeared from the Empire State. Since the fissure in Battery Park is the source of sustenance to The Empire State, the climate begins to edge toward an ice age as time goes on. While this is happening, Rad Bradley uncovers a plot involving robots. On the other side of the fissure in New York City, a mysterious blue woman made purely of energy (I’m looking at you Watchmen) heads up a secret organization that seems to be researching Empire State technology for no good.

It would be hard to comment on this book without comparing it to Empire State. The Age Atomic is a little lighter on the detective noir and heavier on the robots, airships, and odd superheroes. I found the story much easier to follow than it’s predecessor because the plot was a bit more direct and the character’s loyalties weren’t in such a state of flux. I enjoyed the book more because of these differences – especially the more straight forward plot.

In the end, the book was a fun listen, the characters were enjoyable, and I had some serious flashbacks of Watchmen (down to the blue energy character). I especially like Captain Carson/Nimrod as the old-timey adventurer and would love to see a book involving his adventures. I would recommend this book to people who like comic books, robots, super heroes, and detective stories…or at least a decent subset of that group.

As for the audiobook performance, Phil Gigante did a great job as usual. He was easy to understand and did some good voices for the different characters. I also found this book much easier to audiobook than it’s predecessor because of the straightforward plot. I didn’t feel the need to back up as if I missed anything this time around.

Posted by Tom Schreck

Recent Arrivals: The Cold Beneath by Tonia Brown

August 28, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Recent Arrivals 

SFFaudio Recent Arrivals

Written in the narrative form of DeMille’s A Strange Manuscript Found In A Copper Cylinder or Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym Of Nantucket Tonia Brown’s The Cold Beneath is a new “steampunk horror” audiobook.

The Cold Beneath by Tonia Brown

The Cold Beneath
By Tonia Brown; Read by Chris Barnes
Download – Approx. 6 Hours 53 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Dynamic Ram Audio Productions
Published: 2012
In the race to the North Pole, who will become the victor, and who will fall to the ravages of the Cold Beneath? Phillip Syntax is the world’s best biomechanic with a checkered past of betrayal and lost love. When given a chance at redemption by the celebrated soldier Gideon Lightbridge, how can he refuse? This ill-fated expedition turns from daring to disastrous when their airship, the Northern Fancy, crashes in the far and frozen north, leaving the crew stranded without hope. But that isn’t the worst of it. One by one the dead crew members arise from the cold ashes to seek the warmth of the living, and it becomes every man for himself in an effort not to join the ranks of the revenants.

Sample |MP3|

I’ve been listening to the novel, and find it to be punky, flowery and straightforward. The writing itself seems breezy, without pretense or subterfuge. The first few minutes of the audiobook introduces some very steampunkily named characters (“Mr. Syntax” and “Mr. Lightbridge”) – both voiced by the narrator Chris Barnes. Barnes seems to have a natural Scottish accent but as the characters are English and American he creditably voices them as such.

Writing this now, as I approach the first hour mark of the audiobook, I find The Cold Beneath to be a wholly improbable bit of fun, a brummagem amalgam of ahistorical realities, a sepia toned breccia of impossible ideas held in their interstices by a sticky cement of amiable frivolousness.

In other words, The Cold Beneath promises to be nothing more than a distracting steampuk adventure, set aboard an airship, with one of the characters sporting clockwork robotic legs, and, by looking at the cover, perhaps later, some scary frozen zombies.

If you liked the writing energy of Tee Morris’ Billibub Baddings And The Case Of The Singing Sword |READ OUR REVIEW| or the airship adventures of Jay Lake’s Mainspring |READ OUR REVIEW| then Tonia Brown’s The Cold Beneath might be your cup of brown joy.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #167 – READALONG: At The Earth’s Core by Edgar Rice Burroughs

July 2, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast
Edgar Rice Burroughs' At The Earth's Core
The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #167 – Jesse, Tamahome and David Stifel talk about At The Earth’s Core by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Talked about on today’s show:
the Burroughs Guy podcast, Pellucidar, A Princess Of Mars, Burroughs was a dynamic writer, 1913, Barsoom series, the Tarzan series, the Pellucidar or Inner World series, The Land That Time Forgot, Tarzan is next, Tarzan goes to Pellucidar (Tarzan At The Earth’s Core), airships, Jules Verne, The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Journey To The Center Of The Earth, Blackstone Audio, the hollow earth, lizard people, dry humour, Dian the beautiful and her brother Dekor, Abner Perry, Robert A. Heinlein, Jubal Harshaw, the well thought through world, the iron mole, an inverted world, Burroughs well lampshades the improbabilities he presents, the moon in the center of the earth (the pendant world), how does the time work in Pellucidar, the relativity of time, the naming of characters and places in Burrough’s worlds, Thoria vs. Thuria, must get loincloths, the 1976 movie version of At The Earth’s Core, princesses, romance, pet hyenadons, saggoths to shoggoth, H.P. Lovecraft, telepathy, the Mahars’ secret, Ja the king, like Robin Hood and Friar Tuck, near instant language learning, Doug McLure, Peter Cushing, a Connecticut Yankee, the pious Perry, Perry’s theory of time, colonialism, the white man’s burden, noble savage, Kull of Atlantis and Brule The Spear Slayer (the Pict), Beyond The Black River, Hooja the Sly One (an ignoble savage), the size of Pellucidar, Ringworld by Larry Niven, the Sahara, manifest density, telegaph line through to the center of the earth, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, “my prehistoric bride”, stone age tech, dinosaurs, giant fire breathing frogs, the various animals of Pellucidar, Hell is Earth, the raw food diet, a dainty cave wife, the illustrated At The Earth’s Core, ERBZine website, the vivisection/lockpicking scene, John Carter, Prince Of Persia, Peter Jackson, Greystoke: The Legend Of Tarzan, Lord Of The Apes, David Stifel’s filmography, Sleeper Cell, Minority Report, Gods And Generals, Jeffrey Shaara, The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, Gettysburg, Heaven’s Gate, G Vs. E, Six Feet Under, selling Tom Cruise drugs, David’s IMDB page, Sam Peckinpah, The Wild Bunch, Tarzan Of The Apes is next, racism, that David Stifel guy, The Land That Time Forgot, David is in George Bernard Shaw’s Heartbreak House at Theatricum Botanicum in Los Angeles!

David B. Mattingly - At The Earth's Core

Ace Books - At The Earth's Core - cover painting by Roy Krenkel, Jr.

At The Earth's Core - Frank Frazetta cover illustration

At The Earth's Core - cover painting by J. Allen St. John

At The Earth's Core by Edgar Rice Burroughs - MOVIE POSTER COVER

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Red Panda Adventures – Season 6

July 1, 2011 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Audio Drama, Reviews, SFFaudio essential 

SFFaudio Review

Happy Canada Day everybody!

Superhero Audio Drama - The Red Panda Adventures - Season FiveThe Red Panda Adventures – Season 6
By Gregg Taylor; Performed by a full cast
12 MP3 Files via podcast – Approx. 6 Hours [AUDIO DRAMA]
Podcaster: Decoder Ring Theatre
Podcast: August 2010 – May 2011
Themes: / Fantasy / Superheroes / Mystery / Crime / Nazis / WWII / Adventure / Toronto / Vancouver / Amnesia / Telepathy / Airships / Time Travel / Magic / Aliens /

“Let the festival of unsolicited advice begin” -Kit Baxter (All The King’s Men)

Season six of The Red Panda Adventures begins with World War II fully underway. The first six episodes are set prior to December 7th, 1941 and the twelfth episode ends in the high summer of 1942. There’s not a bad episode in the bunch. In fact, this season features some of the finest episodes of the entire series. My personal favourites are: the buoyant adventure of “Girls’ Night Out“, the standalone goodness of “The Wild West“, and the deeply disturbing arc episode “There Will Be Rain Tonight.” September and season seven can’t come soon enough!

Episode 1 – “The Nose For News
A new adversary appears, a shadowy leader of a fifth column inside of Canada! He’s sowing the seeds of discontent and planning acts of sabotage. Can anyone stop Archangel?

Episode 2 – “The Home Team
Having joined the army, Lt. August Fenwick (aka The Red Panda) receives a visit from his new boss Colonel Archibald Fitzroy. But can a superhero really do more good following orders and digging trenches than by defending a city from supervillians?

Episode 3 – “The King Of Crime
There’s a new ruler of the underworld, a royal sort, who demands absolute fealty from his criminally inclined vassals. But is this supercrook merely what he appears to be?

Episode 4 – “Rocket Science
A runaway train packed with high explosive is hurtling toward Montreal, this sounds like a job for the Red Panda. Unfortunately he’s all tied up and Doc Rocket isn’t helping.

Episode 5 – “Girls’ Night Out
Kit Baxter, aka The Flying Squirrel, on a field trip to Vancouver runs afoul of a ring of Japanese spies (who aren’t). But Vancouver’s got its own vigilante superhero, The Grey Fox, who is already on the case. And she’s no fan of aerially inclined rodents meddling on her turf.

Episode 6 – “Barbarian At The Gates
There’s a creature coming and it can’t be stopped. It’s steamrolling its way across the forests of Northern Ontario and heading straight for Toronto! No weapon can stop it, no force can slow it. This sounds like a job for … oh, just guess.

Episode 7 – “Sword Of The Sun King
A 3,000 year old khopesh is the target of an occult Nazi snatch team. But what makes a magic sword a useful tool in this era of Stukas and Panzers?

Episode 8 – “Small Wonders
Molecule Max, a variably sized superhero, joins the Red Panda and the Flying Squirrel in an adventure that may cost them all more than they’ll want to give.

Episode 9 – “Stop The Presses
It’s the story of a lifetime for any reporter, “The Death Of The Red Panda” and Kit is being forced to write it! An army of Nazi thugs have seized her newspaper, taken its staff hostage, and only an old adversary a sinister simian can help!

Episode 10 – “The Wild West
Somebody has been messing with history, and its up to the Red Panda and the Flying Squirrel to clean up. They’ll need to saddle up, partner up, and load their six-shooters up (in case they need to throw down).

Episode 11 – “All The King’s Men
With the Red Panda’s network of agents away in the army it’s up to young Harry Kelly to infiltrate Archangel’s conspiracy. Meanwhile, Kit’s got secret and the only person she’s more afraid to tell than her husband is her mother!

Episode 12 – “There Will Be Rain Tonight
A second front in Europe is still years away but there are those who think a sinister network of black towers is key to Hitler’s defense of the French coast. Red Panda and Doc Rocket are on a secret mission to take them out. Back in Canada the Flying Squirrel is in full retreat as the Nazis have assassinated every Home Team agent in Canada!

Here’s the podcast feed:

http://decoderring.libsyn.com/rss

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #077 – READALONG: Strange Case Of Doctor Jekyll And Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

October 11, 2010 by · 7 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #077 – Jesse talks with Julie Davis and audiobook narrator Wayne June about Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case Of Doctor Jekyll And Mr. Hyde.

Talked about on today’s show:
AudiobookCase.com, Fred Godsmark, Audio Realms, Wayne June is “naturally creepy”, narrating audiobooks is hard work, how do you read to people?, word pronunciation and Lovecraft’s invented language, I, Cthulhu by Neil Gaiman, Gaiman is a modern master, The Rats In The Walls by H.P. Lovecraft |READ OUR REVIEW|, devolving and retro-volving and retro-retrogression, “it’s a sentence but what does it mean?”, H. Beam Piper, reading for the ear, reading aloud is a juggling act, physical copies of audiobooks vs. downloads, The Essential Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde: The Definitive Annotated Edition edited Leonard Wolf, Kevin J. Anderson on Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde, as a parable for addiction, the temperance movement, religion, “an almost theological work [or treatise]”, “the war in the members”, Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde as an homunculus, Mr. Utterson, Cain’s heresy: “I am not my brother’s keeper.”, Dickensian writing, Charles Dickens and Henry James, how evil is Mr. Hyde?, what about those vague debaucheries?, the Greek origin of the word “obscene”, Lovecraft’s indescribably unspeakable prose, The Statement Of Randolph Carter by H.P. Lovecraft, The Thing From Another World, Michael Caine and Cheryl Ladd version of Jekyll & Hyde, The Story Of The Door, the difference between doing good and not doing evil, evil as being self-centered (and prideful), natural selection vs. evolution, ladders vs. branches, progression vs. change, evolution vs. free will, the notoriously optimistic Victorians, Alan Moore’s The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The Hulk and Two-Face, Brad Strickland on Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde, Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, Marxist and feminist critiques, BBC Radio 4 radio drama version of Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde, Let The Right One In (movie) vs. Let The Right One In (book), Poole (the butler), Inspector Newcomen, Jekyll (Je-Kill, I-Kill, Jackal), Forrest J. Ackerman‘s real middle name, Geek-ill, Edinburgh, Soho, a “fine bogey dream”, cocaine usage in the 19th century, Markheim by Robert Louis Stevenson, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, The Reapers Are The Angels by Alden Bell, Jayne Slayre (The Literary Classic…with a Bloodsucking Twist) by Charlotte Brontë and Sherri Browning Erwin, Assam And Darjeeling by T.M. Camp |READ OUR REVIEW|, zombies and vampires, The Loving Dead by Amelia Beamer |READ OUR REVIEW|, mindless sexualized creatures, if you were an urban fantasy author what would you bring together and what would your urban fantasy name be?, the science of lycanthropy vs. the science of zombification, airships, Charles de Lint, Emma Bull, Jim Butcher, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, parallel worlds, proto-urban fantasy, Territory by Emma Bull, The Castle In Transylvania by Jules Verne, Melville House books, translated by Charlotte Mandel, can you do a Transylvanian accent?, Amy H. Sturgis, calling Jules Verne a Science Fiction writer is probably inaccurate, Around The World In Eighty Days by Jules Verne, Phileas Fogg is the most English of all Englishmen, The Vampyre by John William Polidori, Ken Rusell’s Gothic, Switzerland, The Narrative Of Arthur Gordon Pym by Edgar Allan Poe, the strange case of Strange Case, “it’s full of Octobery goodness.”

Airmont - Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Classics Illustrated - Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde

Dr. Jekyl And Mr. Hyde - Chapter 9 - The Transformation In Dr. Lanyon's Office - illustration by William Hole

The Twilight Zone 14 - Robert Louis Stevenson

Guy Deal illustration of Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde
Guy Deal illustration of Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde
Guy Deal illustration of Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde
Guy Deal illustration of Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde

Posted by Jesse Willis

Next Page »