Review of The Loving Dead by Amelia Beamer

October 7, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

BRILLIANCE AUDIO - The Loving Dead by Amelia BeamerThe Loving Dead
By Amelia Beamer; Read by Emily Durante
7 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – Approx. 8 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: July 2010
ISBN: 9781441868343 (cd), 9781441868367 (mp3-cd)
Themes: / Horror / Zombies / Sex / Airships / Humor / San Fransisco / California /

Kate and Michael, twenty-something housemates working at the same Trader Joe’s supermarket, are thoroughly screwed when people start turning into zombies at their house party in the Oakland hills. The zombie plague is a sexually transmitted disease, turning its victims into shambling, horny, voracious killers. Thrust into extremes by the unfolding tragedy, Kate and Michael are forced to confront the decisions they’ve made, and their fears of commitment, while trying to stay alive. Michael convinces Kate to meet him in the one place in the Bay Area that’s likely to be safe and secure from the zombie hordes: Alcatraz. But can they stay human long enough?

Beamer creates scenes, and cuts adequately between them, but when confronted by the surrealistic circumstances she provides (like being trapped in a Zeppelin bathroom with two lesbian zombies) her characters seem more like emotional marionettes, than like real people. It’s almost as if Beamer was actually role-playing a series of improvised scenarios, rather than plotting it out like a novel. When one of the characters discovers that these zombies respond to the crack of a whip, for example, Kate downloads an “Indiana Jones App” to her iPhone and subdues them with it. Clever? Sure. Novelistic? Notsomuch. Thus the tension of a zombie confrontation – will she or won’t she be able to get 3G service high above Oakland – isn’t very satisfying.

Shortly after this audiobook arrived I listened to it’s author, Amelia Beamer, being interviewed on the SFSignal Podcast #006. She talked about how she found the relentlessness of zombies almost endearing. It was a neat idea. And then she said she intended it to be a romantic comedy with zombies. And that was enough to put it in my bathroom audiobook stack. So, for the last week or so I’ve been brushing and flossing my teeth to this novel. I didn’t go in expecting much other than zombies and loving and a few laughs. It has the first two. The loving is actually sex and the zombies are less dead and rotting than they are contagious and sex crazed. If you did a count you’d probably find as many individuated zombies as there are sex scenes. Come to think of it there were probably about just as many tattoos as there were sex scenes and zombies. Where this novel really doesn’t fulfill it’s promise is in the humor department. I didn’t laugh, or smile, or even smirk. Thinking about it, it wasn’t that there were jokes and they weren’t funny, but rather I that the humor was supposed to come from the absurd situational specifics and the slacker/poser cast’s bumbling their way through it all. It has relationships, and people thinking about their relationships, and it has some zombies but I didn’t find it funny.

Getting into specifics now – there’s something odd going on with the meta-Americanness, or rather some subset of it, within the novel’s characters and setting. Even though both Kate and Michael both pretty quickly recognize the infected as zombies, Beamer’s characters seem highly reticent to kill them. Instead they far prefer restraining their wrists, sitting on them – any form of bondage – as in, tie them up or tie them down. Yeah … well … okay. So, I have to think that, in combination with the whips, and the sex and all the tattoos, that taken as a whole this is not so much a zombie novel as a kind of contemporary fiction novel, set in a slacker BDSM San Fransisco subculture, with some zombie additions. Maybe that’s what I signed up for, but I was wrong to do so.

At first I liked some of the references to local stores and products. This is something that is done far too little in most fiction, as far as I’m concerned. It’s one of the things I like most about William Gibson’s prose, he has a reverence to specifics. But as it all went on in The Loving Dead, and as the characters repeatedly reminded each other that they’d read Max Brooks (World War Z |READ OUR REVIEW|), worked at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, it seemed like it wasn’t so much fun – instead it became increasingly clear that it was what was on their minds all the time. It seemed like the real zombies in this audiobook were the characters, living their quiet lives of desperate consumption, performing a narrative for themselves and expressing it in text messages. If I believed in a soul I’d call it a soul-numbing audiobook.

On the final disc we get a flash cut to ten years after the zombie apocalypse first hits. It’s an interesting experiment, to take a doomsday scenario way down the road and see what life is like in the aftermath. One of the redeeming features, of David Moody’s otherwise lackluster Hater |READ OUR REVIEW|, is also in The Loving Dead too. The author takes one significant aspect of a premise to it’s logical and (hopefully inevitable) conclusion. As such, it has some novelty value if only for that. For some true vanilla zombie goodness I’ll get back to reading Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead.

Narrator Emily Durante, a new voice to my ears, is a good reader, I can see that, even despite my not loving The Loving Dead, she provided a steady voice to a patchy and punctuated narrative.

Posted by Jesse Willis

LibriVox: Mr. Wicker’s Window by Carley Dawson

August 11, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

LibriVoxHere’s the promotional description for a gorgeous juvenile, fantasy, pirate, time travel, airship novel (all this and less than 59,000 words). It’s public domain and from 1952. It’s called Mister Wicker’s Window:

When twelve-year-old Chris entered Mr. Wicker’s shop to inquire about a job for his friend, something about old Mr. Wicker forced him to take the job himself. Chris found himself the pupil of Mr. Wicker, not the old man he first saw, but a powerful man in his forties—a magician. Chris learned how to turn himself into a fish, a bird, a fly, and with a magic rope he learned to make a boat or even an elephant.

Chris had been chosen to sail to China on a mysterious mission. Long before he sailed, Chris met the enemies who would try and stop him—evil Claggett Chew, the dandy Osterbridge Hawsey, the treacherous old beggar Simon Gosler. With a Nubian boy Chris brought to life with magic, he set out on his hazardous voyage.

Carley Dawson writes beautifully, combining fact and fantasy with skill. Her characters are lifelike and vivid, and the plot of this, her first book, is fantastically exciting and exceptionally outstanding. With power and imagination Lynd Ward has illustrated the book with over eighty drawings in two colors.

It was precisely those drawings that drew me in!

Art from MR. VICKER'S WINDOW

Art from MR. VICKER'S WINDOW

Art from MR. VICKER'S WINDOW

Art from MR. VICKER'S WINDOW

Lynd Ward, the artist, drew dozens of gorgeous illustrations just like the ones above. They kind of remind me of Darwyn Cooke and, oddly, Doctor Seuss. Every single one of them accompanies the Gutenberg etext edition. After seeing them I was absolutely compelled to seek out the audiobook. I badly wanted someone to read me the story, if only so I could spend that much more time staring at the gorgeous images. I looked on LibriVox, and achieved a double success.

But… the first version, recorded in 2009 is a multi-reader relay-style edition (SIGH). And, Arthur Piantadosi, the narrator on Version 2 of LibriVox’s public domain audiobook, is not my ideal reader either. His recording is a little hollow sounding (oh well), he stumbles over words (not good) and he makes the occasional sound effect (ARGGGH!!).

We can’t have this. No we can’t.

This sounds like a job for WILLIAM COON!

Until Bill, you can take your pick…

LIBRIVOX - Mr. Wicker's Window by Carley DawsonMr. Wicker’s Window
By Carley Dawson; Read by various
36 Zipped MP3 Files – Approx. 5 Hours 53 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: November 10, 2009
Ebook: Gutenberg.org
Printable CD Booklet: |PDF|
When twelve-year-old Chris entered Mr. Wicker’s shop to inquire about a job for his friend, something about old Mr. Wicker forced him to take the job himself. Chris found himself the pupil of Mr. Wicker, not the old man he first saw, but a powerful man in his forties–a magician. Chris learned how to turn himself into a fish, a bird, a fly, and with a magic rope he learned to make a boat or even an elephant. Chris had been chosen to sail to China on a mysterious mission. Long before he sailed, Chris met the enemies who would try and stop him–evil Claggett Chew, the dandy Osterbridge Hawsey, the treacherous old beggar Simon Gosler. With a Nubian boy Chris brought to life with magic, he set out on his hazardous voyage.

Podcast feed: http://librivox.org/bookfeeds/mr-wickers-window-by-carley-dawson.xml

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

LIBRIVOX - Mr. Wicker's Window by Carley DawsonMr. Wicker’s Window (VERSION 2)
By Carley Dawson; Read by Arthur Piantadosi
36 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 5 Hours 49 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: March 2, 2010
Ebook: Gutenberg.org
Printable CD Booklet: |PDF|
When Christopher Mason walked into Mr. Wicker’s antique shop, he had no idea he would soon be embarking on a marvellous journey to China to find a wonderful tree made of jewels. He had no idea that Mr. Wicker was a magician and could travel through time. And that the tree was sought by others, not least among them the murderous Claggett Chew, a merchant in port and a pirate on the high seas, who also had knowledge of magic. But before Chris succeeded in quest, he would know of all these things and more. And of Mr. Wicker’s friends, the sailor Ned Cilley, Becky Boozer, and the African boy Amos, changed from wood to flesh. And Christopher Mason would never be same, after.

Podcast feed: http://librivox.org/rss/4062

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

[Thanks also to Patti Cunningham, Diana Majlinger, J.M. Smallheer and Annise]

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Red Panda Adventures – Season 5

July 1, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Reviews, SFFaudio essential 

SFFaudio Review

Superhero Audio Drama - The Red Panda Adventures - Season FiveThe Red Panda Adventures – Season 5
By Gregg Taylor; Performed by a full cast
12 MP3 Files via podcast – Approx. 6 Hours [AUDIO DRAMA]
Podcaster: Decoder Ring Theatre
Podcast: 2009 – 2010
Themes: / Fantasy / Superheroes / Mystery / Crime / Nazis / Adventure / Toronto / Magic / Dinosaurs / Telepathy / Amnesia / Airships / Time Travel / Caribbean / New York / Los Angeles / Espionage /

Of the many terrific episodes in this season’s dozen, I think Just Like Clockwork is my overall favourite. It’s an exemplary episode and it’s probably as close as Gregg Taylor will come to adapting a Philip K. Dick story. Events in any given Red Panda show can stand completely alone, but they’ll still often add to a developing story. Like in all the previous seasons villains rise, and fall, rise and then fall again. But sometimes the villains aren’t really villains, and sometimes the heroes are more frightening than we’d like them to be. By the final episode of Season 5 we know were heading towards some serious World War II stories. Here’s my description of each episode:

Episode 1 – “Nightshade” |MP3|
The newly married super-couple, August Fenwick (aka The Red Panda) and Kit Baxter Fenwick (aka The Flying Squirrel), are returning from their honeymoon in Europe. It was a working holiday, but they’re looking forward to a relaxing flight home aboard a Zeppelin. But there is a mysterious passenger aboard, and she has other plans.

Episode 2 – “Flight Of The Bumblebee” |MP3|
Doctor Darius, an earnest rooming-house tenant with a “felonious past,” is having trouble paying his rent. If he can only perfect his “royal jelly” formula … well, let’s just say that not all super-villains, it seems, are motivated by megalomania.

Episode 3 – “The Puzzle Master” |MP3|
A fiendish deathtrap, in the form of a labyrinth, faces any victim of The Puzzle Master. Can RP and FS, with the help of “Doc Rocket”, navigate the maze?

Episode 4 – “Just Like Clockwork” |MP3|
An amnesiac awakes in a dark alley. He meets a young woman, she wants to help, and he’s definitely in need of it. Meanwhile, the Red Panda is hunting for someone or something that poses a threat to someone or something somewhere in Toronto. It’s a mystery! It’s a love story! And it has all got to end either with a bang, a twist, or in tears!

Episode 5 – “Murder Wears A Mask” |MP3|
An old debt must be repaid with a trip to New York City. But unlike in Toronto, NYC has licensed superheroes, the mayor has given them badges and charged them with tracking down one of their own. But two crusaders from the Great White North don’t need no stinkin’ badges.

Episode 6 – “Terror Walks The Night” |MP3|
A cold spell, and a series of suicides isn’t likely to be a dastardly plot. Not during the 1930s depression. But when those suicides coincide with a series of disappearances then a certain something must be up. Right? Add in a snake cult and this looks like a job for a certain married couple, in thermal tights!

Episode 7 – “The Secret City” |MP3|
A dozen unsolved “society” kidnappings are followed up by an “impossible” $80,000 jewel robbery – the police are baffled but Red Panda (and wife) are on the case. Perhaps one jocular simian and his Oliver Twist-like crew are responsible?

Episode 8 – “A Dish Best Served Cold” |MP3|
A stakeout, some “ritualistic nonsense” and a gravelly voiced villain leading a covert cabal of criminal creeps may spell the extermination of both Panda and Squirrel. Can anyone stop The Red Panda Revenge Squad?

Episode 9 – “Song Of The Siren” |MP3|
A Caribbean vacation for Mr. and Mrs. August Fenwick is cut short when a Havana based pleasure boat, reported in distress and then missing, proves irresistible to this power couple. Could a mysterious high pitched cry, and an inconspicuous island deep in the epicenter be signs of a secret testing base? But testing for what? And for whom?

Episode 10 – “Eyes Of The Idol” |MP3|
Late one night in Los Angeles two security guards pass the time by talking. One has a strange tale to tell. It seems there was once an uninhabited island off the coast of India. On that island was an ancient ruined city. In that city was a certain eldritch idol. And that idol had two jewels for eyes, now called the “Eyes of Doom.” Now one of the guards has one. Two means doom.

Episode 11 – “Sins Of The Father” |MP3|
Is it only coincidence when Fenwick Industries is plagued by accidents? After all, accidents happen. But sometimes accidents aren’t actually accidents at all! And a sniper assassin is no kind of accident. Its all very hush hush, but what exactly does the suspicious Colonel Fitzroy know about it?

Episode 12 – “The Great Fall” |MP3|
Set in late August 1939, with a recently signed non-aggression pact between the Third Reich and the Soviet Union. One hero, and her husband, will fight one final holding action in a losing war, the Occult War. Their opponent is Professor Friedrich Von Schlitz and a division of SS scum.

Happy Canada Day everybody, go celebrate with some RED PANDA!

Here’s the podcast feed:

http://decoderring.libsyn.com/rss

Posted by Jesse Willis

New Releases: Sherlock Holmes, Jack London, Hitler vs. Stalin, Alastair Reynolds

June 9, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: New Releases 

SFFaudio Online Audio

If there’s one public domain novel I don’t mind seeing endless re-releases and re-recordings of it’s this one…

RANDOM HOUSE AUDIO - The Call Of The Wild by Jack LondonThe Call Of The Wild
By Jack London; Read by Jeff Daniels
CDs – Approx. 3 Hours 12 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: May 25, 2010
ISBN: 9780307710260
Sample |MP3|
Jack London’s The Call Of The Wild was written in 1903, but Buck’s gripping adventure makes for a thrilling listen on audio more than 100 years after it was first published. This gripping story follows the adventures of the loyal dog Buck, who is stolen from his comfortable family home and forced into the harsh life of an Alaskan sled dog. Passed from master to master, Buck embarks on an extraordinary journey that ends with his becoming the legendary leader of a wolf pack.

Now this should be interesting…

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - Wolf: The Lives Of Jack London by James L. HaleyWolf: The Lives of Jack London
By James L. Haley; Read by Bronson Pinchot
10 CDs or 1 Mp3-CD – Approx. 13 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: May 25, 2010
ISBN: 9781441758965 (cd), 9781441758972 (mp3-cd)
Jack London was born a working-class, fatherless San Franciscan in 1876. In his youth, he was a boundlessly energetic adventurer on the bustling west coast—by and by playing the role of hobo, sailor, and oyster pirate. From his vantage point at the margins of Gilded Age America, he witnessed such iniquity and abuses that he became a life long socialist and advocate for reform. His adventures in the American wilderness and underworld informed his fiction, and his writing came to captivate the nation as it defined his era. Within his own short lifetime, London became the most popular, and bestselling, author of his generation. By adulthood he had matured into the iconic American author of such still-universally loved books as The Call Of The Wild, White Fang, and Sea Wolf, but in spite of his success, he was at war with himself. The highest-paid writer in America, he was constantly broke. Famous as he was for conjuring the brutality of nature in story after story and novel after novel, upon the actual deaths of his favorite animals he would dissolve into helpless tears. Sick, angry, and disillusioned, after a short, breathless life, he passed away at age forty, but he left behind him a glorious literary legacy. Award-winning author James L. Haley explores the forgotten Jack London—a man bristling with ideas, whose passion for social justice roared until the day he died. In Wolf, Haley returns Jack London to his proper place in the American pantheon, resurrecting the author of White Fang in his full fire and glory.

Made by makers…

TANTOR MEDIA - Made By Hand by Mark Frauenfelder   Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World
By Mark Frauenfelder; Read by Kirby Heyborne
7 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – Approx. 8 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Media
Published: June 07, 2010
ISBN: 9781400117819 (cd), 9781400167814 (mp3-cd)
From his unique vantage point as editor in chief of Make magazine, the hub of the newly invigorated do-it-yourself (DIY) movement, Mark Frauenfelder takes listeners on an inspiring and surprising tour of the vibrant world of DIY. The Internet has brought together large communities of people who share ideas, tips, and blueprints for making everything from unmanned aerial vehicles to pedal-powered iPhone chargers to an automatic cat feeder jury-rigged from a VCR. DIY is a direct reflection of our basic human desire to invent and improve, long suppressed by the availability of cheap, mass-produced products that have drowned us in bland convenience and cultivated our most wasteful habits. Frauenfelder spent a year trying a variety of offbeat projects, such as keeping chickens and bees, tricking out his espresso machine, whittling wooden spoons, making guitars out of cigar boxes, and doing citizen science with his daughters in the garage. His whole family found that DIY helped them take control of their lives, offering a path that was simple, direct, and clear. Working with their hands and minds helped them feel more engaged with the world around them.
Frauenfelder reveals how DIY is changing our culture for the better. He profiles fascinating “alpha makers” leading various DIY movements and grills them for their best tips and insights. Beginning his journey with hands as smooth as those of a typical geek, Frauenfelder offers a unique perspective on how earning a few calluses can be far more rewarding and satisfying than another trip to the mall.

I always bet on the man with the bigger mustache…

TANTOR MEDIA - Deathride: Hitler vs. Stalin—the Eastern Front, 1941–1945 by John MosierDeathride: Hitler vs. Stalin—the Eastern Front, 1941-1945
By John Mosier; Read by Michael Prichard
10 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – Approx. 12.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Media
Published: June 15, 2010
ISBN: 9781400117369 (cd), 9781400167364 (mp3-cd)
John Mosier presents a revisionist retelling of the war on the Eastern Front. Although the Eastern Front was the biggest and most important theater in World War II, it is not well known in the United States, as no American troops participated in the fighting. Yet historians agree that this is where the decisive battles of the war were fought. The conventional wisdom about the Eastern Front is that Hitler was mad to think he could defeat the USSR because of its vast size and population, and that the Battle of Stalingrad marked the turning point of the war. Neither statement is accurate, says Mosier; Hitler came very close to winning outright. Mosier’s history of the Eastern Front will generate considerable controversy both because of his unconventional arguments and because he criticizes historians who have accepted Soviet facts and interpretations. Mosier argues that Soviet accounts are utterly untrustworthy and that accounts relying on them are fantasies. Deathride argues that the war in the East was Hitler’s to lose, that Stalin was in grave jeopardy from the outset of the war, and that it was the Allied victories in North Africa and consequent threat to Italy that forced Hitler to change his plans and saved Stalin from near-certain defeat. Stalin’s only real triumph was in creating a legend of victory.

We’ve talked about it on the podcast, and here it is…

TANTORMEDIA Terminal World by Alastair ReynoldsTerminal World
By Alastair Reynolds; Read by John Lee
15 Audio CDs or 2 MP3-CDs – Approx. 19.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Media
Publisher: June 1, 2010
ISBN: 9781400117116(cd), 9781400167111 (mp3-cd)
Spearpoint, the last human city, is an atmosphere-piercing spire of vast size. Clinging to its skin are the zones, a series of semi-autonomous city-states, each of which enjoys a different—and rigidly enforced—level of technology. Following an infiltration mission that went tragically wrong, Quillon has been living incognito, working as a pathologist in the district morgue. But when a near-dead angel drops onto his dissecting table, Quillon’s world is wrenched apart one more time. If Quillon is to save his life, he must leave his home and journey into the cold and hostile lands beyond Spearpoint’s base, starting an exile that will take him further than he could ever imagine. But there is far more at stake than just Quillon’s own survival, for the limiting technologies of the zones are determined not by governments or police but by the very nature of reality—and reality itself is showing worrying signs of instability.

Death Cloud is the first in a series of novels in which Sherlock Holmes is re-imagined as “a brilliant, troubled and engaging teenager”…

PAN MACMILLIAN - Young Sherlock Holmes: Death Cloud by Andrew LaneYoung Sherlock Holmes: Death Cloud
By Andrew Lane; Read by Dan Stevens
3 CDs – Approx. 3 Hours [ABRIDGED?]
Publisher: Pan Macmillian Audio
Published: June 2010
ISBN: 9780230745124
The year is 1868, and Sherlock Holmes is fourteen. His life is that of a perfectly ordinary army officer’s son: boarding school, good manners, a classical education – the backbone of the British Empire. But all that is about to change. With his father suddenly posted to India, and his mother mysteriously ‘unwell’, Sherlock is sent to stay with his eccentric uncle and aunt in their vast house in Hampshire. So begins a summer that leads Sherlock to uncover his first murder, a kidnap, corruption and a brilliantly sinister villain of exquisitely malign intent…

[via Bish’s Beat]

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #058

May 10, 2010 by · 7 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #058 – Jesse and Scott talk with John DeNardo from SFSignal.com about Science Fiction books, audiobooks, TV, movies and comics.

Talked about on today’s show:
SFSignal.com, Charles Tan (of the Bibliophile Stalker), books vs. movies, Blade Runner, SFSignal reviews audiobooks, the Warhammer 40K series, Infinivox, Aliens Rule edited by Allan Kaster, James Swallow, the Blake’s 7 audio dramas, Black Library, Dresden Files, Jim Butcher, WWW: Wake by Robert J. Sawyer |READ OUR REVIEW|, Mike Resnick’s Starship series, Orson Scott Card, Theodore Sturgeon, Alastair Reynolds, Hard SF, Pandora’s Star and Judas Unchained by Peter F. Hamilton, Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks, The Space Opera Renaissance edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer, The New Space Opera 2 edited by Gardner Dozois and Jonathan Strahan, Isaac Asimov, Martin H. Greenberg, The Science Fiction Hall Of Fame – Volume One, Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds, Tantor Media, steampunk, airships, Deep Navigation by Alastair Reynolds, NESFA Press, Subterranean Press, Phases Of The Moon by Robert Silverberg, “Book Cover Smackdown,” Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, Gentlemen Of The Road by Michael Chabon, interior magazine art, The Lifecycle Of Software Objects by Ted Chiang, The Merchant And The Alchemist’s Gate by Ted Chiang, The Story Of Your Life by Ted Chiang, reviewing Science Fiction books, PC Gamer, the philosophy of reviewing, The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James, Star Trek, Doctor Who, deus ex machina, social Science Fiction, Fringe, Eureka, Paul Bishop, Bish’s Beat, Flashforward, Robert J. Sawyer’s episode, Luke Burrage, iO9: Good Character Development Includes The All-Important “F*@% Yeah” Moment, Terry Pratchett Explains Why Doctor Who Is Ludicrous, Frequency, CERN, HBO, True Blood, Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris |READ OUR REVIEW|, A Game Of Thrones, Ringworld as an audio drama or a miniseries, V, Shogun, “In the interest of full disclosure”, books received vs. books reviewed, the ethics of reviewing free books, Karen Burnham, Spiral Galaxy Reviewing Laboratory, paranormal romance, Lisa Paitz Spindler, Danger Gal, recent arrivals, The Unincorporated War by Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin, Brilliance Audio, Cory Doctorow, For The Win, Little Brother, Jesse’s Pick Of The Week: Logicomix: An Epic Search For Truth by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos Papadimitriou, Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Watchmen, Zeus: King Of The Gods by George O’Connor, Scott’s Pick Of The Week: The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby, About A Boy, Fever Pitch, John’s Pick Of The Week: Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds, We, Robots edited by Allan Kaster, The Complete Drive-In by Joe R. Lansdale.

Posted by Jesse Willis

New Releases: City Of Dragons, The Eerie Silence, Beautiful Assassin

April 7, 2010 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: New Releases 

New Releases

Tantor MediaWhen I compiled this list of the latest new releases from Tantor Media I discovered that there was a very companionable video for nearly every one.

First up is City Of Dragons, a book we’ve decided we’re going to be doing a readalong for. That is a bunch of podcasty bloggy friends will (hopefully) read and/or be listening to this book/audiobook for discussion on an upcoming SFFaudio Podcast! An exciting prospect eh?


TANTOR MEDIA - City Of Dragons by Kelli StanleyCity Of Dragons
By Kelli Stanley; Read by Cynthia Holloway
11 CDs or 2 MP3-CDs – Approx. 13 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Media
Published: April 5, 2010
ISBN: 9781400116645 (cd), 9781400166640 (mp3-cd)
February, 1940. In San Francisco’s Chinatown, fireworks explode as the city celebrates Chinese New Year with a Rice Bowl Party, a three-day-and-night carnival designed to raise money and support for China war relief. Miranda Corbie is a thirty-three-year-old private investigator who stumbles upon the fatally shot body of Eddie Takahashi. The Chamber of Commerce wants it covered up. The cops acquiesce. All Miranda wants is justice—whatever it costs. From Chinatown tenements, to a tattered tailor’s shop in Little Osaka, to a high-class bordello draped in Southern Gothic, she shakes down the city—her city—seeking the truth.

Here’s a science audiobook that’s got Scott pretty excited. Myself I thought the question of whether we are alone in the universe was answered rather definitely by that Charlie Sheen/Ron Silver documentary called The Arrival

TANTOR MEDIA - The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence by Paul DaviesThe Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence
By Paul Davies; Read by George K. Wilson
9 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – Approx. 10 Hours 30 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Media
Published: April 13, 2010
ISBN: 9781400115518 (cd), 9781400165513 (mp3-cd)
Fifty years ago, a young astronomer named Frank Drake pointed a radio telescope at nearby stars in the hope of picking up a signal from an alien civilization. Thus began one of the boldest scientific projects in history, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). But after a half century of scanning the skies, astronomers have little to report but an eerie silence—eerie because many scientists are convinced that the universe is teeming with life. The problem, argues leading physicist and astrobiologist Paul Davies, is that we’ve been looking in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and in the wrong way. Davies should know. For more than three decades, he has been closely involved with SETI and now chairs the SETI Post-Detection Taskgroup, charged with deciding what to do if we’re confronted with evidence of alien intelligence. In this extraordinary book, he shows how SETI has lost its edge, then offers a new and exciting road map for the future. Davies believes that our search so far has been overly anthropocentric: we tend to assume an alien species will look, think, and behave like us. He argues that we need to be far more expansive in our efforts, and in this book he completely redefines the search, challenging existing ideas of what form an alien intelligence might take, how it might try to communicate with us, and how we should respond if we ever do make contact. A provocative and mind-expanding journey, The Eerie Silence will thrill fans of science and science fiction alike.

Here’s a new twist on an War Of The Rats (which was turned into a movie called Enemy At The Gates)…

TANTOR MEDIA - Beautiful Assassin by Michael WhiteBeautiful Assassin
By Michael White; Read by Anne Flosnik
14 CDs or 2 MP3-CDs – Approx. 18 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Media
Published: March 30, 2010
ISBN: 9781400114306 (cd), 9781400164301 (mp3-cd)
Sevastopol, 1942. As the might of the German army threatens to engulf the Soviet Union, a brave, young Red Army sniper named Tat’yana Levchenko becomes a national hero. But who is this beautiful assassin? To the Soviets, she is a refined poet and weapon of destruction with three hundred enemy kills to her name—a dedicated soldier whose skill and courage have rallied a motherland on the brink of despair. To the Americans, she is a Red Communist with movie-star good looks who is championed by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt—a reminder of Soviet suffering and a symbol of the vital need to defeat the Nazis. Invited to the United States at the behest of the White House, Tat’yana sets off on a whirlwind tour with the first lady. Amid the curious crowds, rumors begin to swirl that Tat’yana is a spy, a pawn of politicians and propagandists battling for power and control. But before suspicions can be confirmed, the Soviet soldier vanishes. It will be more than fifty years before a resourceful correspondent uncovers the truth and the full story of the beautiful assassin is finally told.

I’m a huge fan of Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe. This new edition features the talented Simon Prebble, who I’ve really enjoyed listening to since I first heard his reading of The Great Train Robbery by Michael Crichton. This new edition of Ivanhoe, as with many of Tantor Media public domain sourced audiobooks, features a eBook of the full novel as well.

TANTOR MEDIA - Ivanhoe by Sir Walter ScottIvanhoe
By Sir Walter Scott; Read by Simon Prebble
15 CDs or 2 MP3-CDs – Approx. 18. Hours 30 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Media
Published: March 30, 2010
ISBN: 9781400116065 (cd), 9781400166060 (mp3-cd)
The epitome of the chivalric novel, Ivanhoe sweeps listeners into Medieval England and the lives of a memorable cast of characters. Ivanhoe, a trusted ally of Richard the Lion Hearted, returns from the Crusades to reclaim the inheritance his father denied him. Rebecca, a vibrant, beautiful Jewish woman, is defended by Ivanhoe against a charge of witchcraft—but it is Lady Rowena who is Ivanhoe’s true love. The wicked Prince John plots to usurp England’s throne, but two of the most popular heroes in all of English literature—Richard the Lion Hearted and the well-loved, famous outlaw Robin Hoo—team up to defeat the Normans and regain the castle. The success of this novel lies with Sir Walter Scott’s skillful blend of historic reality, chivalric romance, and high adventure.

Methinks the teen doth protest too much!

TANTOR MEDIA - I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan WellsI Am Not A Serial Killer (Book 1 in the John Cleaver series)
By Dan Wells; Read by John Allen Nelson
6 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – Approx. 7 Hours 30 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Media
Published: March 30, 2010
ISBN: 9781400115792 (cd), 9781400165797 (mp3-cd)
John works in his family’s mortuary and has an obsession with serial killers. He wants to be a good person but fears he is a sociopath, and for years he has suppressed his dark side through a strict system of rules designed to mimic “normal” behavior. Then a demon begins stalking his small town and killing people one by one, and John is forced to give in to his darker nature in order to save them. As he struggles to understand the demon and find a way to kill it, his own mind begins to unravel until he fears he may never regain control. Faced with the reality that he is, perhaps, more monstrous than the monster he is fighting, John must make a final stand against the horrors of both the demon and himself.

TANTOR MEDIA - Beowulf by anonymousBeowulf
By anonymous; Read by Rosalyn Landor
3 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – Approx. 3 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Media
Published: March 29, 2010
ISBN: 9781400115990 (cd), 9781400165995 (mp3-cd)
When sleep was at its deepest, night at its blackest, up from the mist-filled marsh came Grendel stalking… Thus begins the battle between good and evil, for lying in wait and anxious to challenge the ogre Grendel is a young man, strong-willed and fire-hearted. This man is Beowulf, whose heroic dragon-slaying deeds were sung in the courts of Anglo-Saxon England more than a thousand years ago. Beowulf is our only native English heroic epic. In the figure of Beowulf, the Scandinavian warrior, and his struggles against monsters, the unknown author depicts the life and outlook of a pagan age. The poem is a subtle blending of themes—the conflict of good and evil, and an examination of heroism. Its skillful arrangement of incidents and use of contrast and parallel show it to be the product of a highly sophisticated culture.

This new collection of Robert E. Howard Horror fiction includes more than one story that freaked me out when I read them in paperback. Howard is of course best known for famous character Conan of Cimmeria. But some of his best writing was in the horror genre. One story, Pigeons From Hell, was adapted for television for an episode of an anthology series called Thiller (hosted by Boris Karloff). Like most of Howard’s work, it translates well, when in capable hands.

TANTOR MEDIA - The Horror Stories Of Robert E. HowardThe Horror Stories Of Robert E. Howard
By Robert E. Howard; Read by Robertson Dean
19 Audio CDs or 2 MP3-CD – Approx. 24 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Media
Published: March 30, 2010
ISBN: 9781400112296 (cd), 9781400162291 (mp3-cd)
Robert E. Howard, renowned creator of Conan the barbarian, was also a master at conjuring tales of hair-raising horror. In a career spanning only twelve years, Howard wrote more than a hundred stories, with his most celebrated work appearing in Weird Tales, the preeminent pulp magazine of the era. In this collection of Howard’s greatest horror tales, some of the author’s best-known characters—Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn, and sailor Steve Costigan among them—roam the forbidding locales of Howard’s fevered imagination, from the swamps and bayous of the Deep South to the fiend-haunted woods outside Paris to remote jungles in Africa. Included in this collection is Howard’s masterpiece “Pigeons From Hell,” a tale of two travelers who stumble upon the ruins of a Southern plantation—and into the maw of its fatal secret. In “Black Canaan,” even the best warrior has little chance of taking down the evil voodoo man with unholy powers—and none at all against his wily mistress, the diabolical High Priestess of Damballah. Also included is the classic revenge nightmare “Worms Of The Earth” as well as “The Cairn On The Headland.”

TANTOR MEDIA - Journey To The Center Of The Earth by Jules VerneJourney To The Center Of The Earth
By Jules Verne; Read by Ed Sala
9 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – Approx. 10 Hours 30 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: Tantor Media
Published: March 30, 2010
An eccentric geology professor acquires an old book and finds an ancient parchment hidden within its pages. On it is a coded message that reveals directions to a secret passageway that leads deep within the earth’s interior. The professor immediately sets off on a daring journey to Iceland, where he and his companions enter into an extinct volcano and make their way to the center of the earth. They soon find a strange underground world where the laws of science are turned upside down. They discover huge caverns, luminous rocks, a subterranean sea, primitive forests, and fearsome prehistoric creatures that time had forgot. The travelers encounter one stirring adventure after another as they explore deep within the bowels of the earth.

Based on the big RPG Fantasy game I didn’t play last year Dragon Age: Origins

Tantor Media - Dragon Age: The Stolen Dragon Throne by David GaiderDragon Age: The Stolen Throne (Book 1 in the Dragon Age series)
By David Gaider; Read by Stephen Hoye
11 CDs or 2 MP3-CDs – Approx. 13 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Published: Tantor Media
Published: March 23, 2010
ISBN: 9781400116218 (cd), 9781400166213 (mp3-cd)
After his mother, the beloved Rebel Queen, is betrayed and murdered by her own faithless lords, young Maric becomes the leader of a rebel army attempting to free his nation from the control of a foreign tyrant. His countrymen live in fear; his commanders consider him untested; and his only allies are Loghain, a brash young outlaw who saved his life, and Rowan, the beautiful warrior maiden promised to him since birth. Surrounded by spies and traitors, Maric must find a way to not only survive but achieve his ultimate destiny: Ferelden’s freedom and the return of his line to the stolen throne.

Despite its having William Dufris as a narrator, and its having airships, I’m still not 100% convinced I want to listen to…

TANTOR MEDIA - The Dream Of Perpetual Motion by Dexter PalmerThe Dream Of Perpetual Motion
By Dexter Palmer; Read by William Dufris
11 CDs or 2 MP3-CDs – Approx. 14 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Media
Published: March 16, 2010
ISBN: 9781400114962 (cd), 9781400164967 (mp3-cd)
Imprisoned aboard a zeppelin that floats above a city reminiscent of those of the classic films Metropolis and Brazil, the greeting card writer Harold Winslow is composing his memoirs. His companions are the only woman he has ever loved, who has gone insane, and the cryogenically frozen body of her father, the devilish genius who drove her mad. The tale of Harold’s decades-long thwarted love is also one in which he watches technology transform his childhood home from a mere burgeoning metropolis to a waking dream, in which the well-heeled have mechanical men for servants, deserted islands can exist within skyscrapers, and the worlds of fairy tales can be built from scratch. And as he heads toward a final, desperate confrontation with the mad inventor, he discovers that he is an unwitting participant in the creation of the greatest invention of them all—the perpetual motion machine.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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