Review of The Telling by Ursula K. LeGuin

April 21, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

The Telling by Ursula K. LeGuinThe Telling (Hainish Cycle)
By Ursula K. LeGuin; Performed by Gabra Zackman
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
ISBN: 978-1-4692-8062-2
6 discs; 7 hours [UNABRIDGED]

Themes: / Hainish / planets / libraries / storytelling / alien races / pilgrimage /

Publisher summary:

Once a culturally rich world, the planet Aka has been utterly transformed by technology. Records of the past have been destroyed, and citizens are strictly monitored. But an official observer from Earth named Sutty has learned of a group of outcasts who live in the wilderness. They still believe in the ancient ways and still practice its lost religion — the Telling. Intrigued by their beliefs, Sutty joins them on a sacred pilgrimage into the mountains…and into the dangerous terrain of her own heart, mind, and soul.

When I first started listening to The Telling, I didn’t realize it was in the same universe as  The Dispossessed and The Left Hand of Darkness, in fact I didn’t know those two books were related either. This story takes place in a loosely related world, but on a new planet. Sutty has been sent to collect the printed historical record, but arrives to discover most of it has been destroyed. Her own life on Terra was destroyed when her lover was killed by drones, and being sent to Aka may or may not be a way to push her out of the way of normal life. Along the way she finds out about a practice called “The Telling,” that is more than just an oral storytelling tradition. The story is concise although it ends a little too abruptly to understand what will happen in the future on Aka. I’m not convinced Sutty has as much power as she thinks she has to effect change.

The reader, Gabra Zackman, does a nice job, although the sounds made during the tellings sounded a little like orgasms. Maybe they were supposed to.

Posted by Jenny Colvin

New Releases – Wonder Audio, Leiber and Weinbaum

January 22, 2009 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: New Releases 

SFFaudio Recent Arrivals

Did you know you can get either of these titles, as well as any other Wonder Audio title for free?  Just sign up at Audible.com/WonderAudio

The Night of the Long KnivesThe Night of the Long Knives
By Fritz Leiber; Read by Mark Douglas Nelson
3hr,  37 min.- [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Wonder Audio
Published: 2009

Available at Audible & iTunes

A Deathlander’s life is a rough one. Atomic radiation, murder and sex preoccupies the sparse inhabitants of what used to be a great portion of America’s West. Kill or be killed is the law of this sickened land. Multicolored radioactive dusts floats in the atmosphere of this nuclear desert.

When Ray Baker meets a woman on his sojourn, he doesn’t know if he wants to kill her or sleep with her. Ray doesn’t understand his urge to murder. But he feels it like all the other Deathlanders. Just as he knows the girl feels it. Laying down their arsenal of weapons will leave them both vulnerable. The cost of a moment of intimacy may lead to the last moments of their lives. And what to do when the act is over, and both their minds turn back to murder.

Parasite Planet: The Ham & Pat StoriesParasite Planet: The Ham & Pat Stories
By Stanley G. Weinbaum; Read by Mark Douglas Nelson
3hr, 47 min.- [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Wonder Audio
Published: 2009

Available at Audible & iTunes

The short and meteoric career of Stanley G. Weinbaum produced many instantly hailed classics. None had the breadth of wonder, and adventure with philosophic insight as the trilogy of stories that feature Ham Hammond and Patricia Burlingame.

Parasite Planet begins with Ham Hammond trekking across the surface of Venus. The environment is parasitic, filled with bizarre alien life forms like the lasso throwing Jack Ketch Trees and the doughpots, a mindless omnivorous ball of animate cells that devour all living things in their path. When Ham meets the contentious Patricia Burlingame, they have to march across Venus to safety. It’s not clear what is going to kill them first, Venus’s hostile environment or each other.

In The Lotus Eaters, Ham and Pat are on a special scientific expedition to the dark-side of Venus. They discover a strange warm-blooded plant. The most disconcerting thing about the plant is when it begins speaking English and waxing philosophically.

The Planet of Doubt brings the duo to Uranus on another special scientific expedition. The cloudy shrouded terrain strikes terror into the heart of Ham as tries to find the lost Pat who he hopes is still be alive!

Posted by The Time Traveler of the Time Traveler Show

FREE LISTENS Review: Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper

July 14, 2008 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Reviews 

Review

Free Listens Blog

Little Fuzzy

by H. Beam Piper

Source:Internet Archive |17 zipped MP3s|
Length: 6 hr, 45 min [UNABRIDGED]
Reader: Maria Lectrix

The book: Jack Halloway, a lone gem miner on the corporate-owned planet Zarathrusta, discovers a small furry alien hiding in his mining shack. The alien, whom he names “Little Fuzzy”, is friendly, and although primitive, appears to be intelligent. When word gets out about Little Fuzzy, it means bad news for capitalist Victor Grego. Grego runs the entire planet under a Terran Federation policy that allows the Zarathrusta Corporation to operate with little interference, but only if the planet is not home to a sentient life form. If the Fuzzies, as they come to be called, are sentient beings, then they own the planet and all the profits that the Zarathrusta Corporation has been making are forfeit. A legal battle ensues, a physical battle looms, and Jack discovers that he’s become responsible for a whole race of adorable aliens.

This is a fun young adult book with great depth. The early going is a little rough, as Piper introduces many characters one after the other before the reader can get a good handle on each. Later, as the relationship between these characters becomes apparent, the sense of being lost in a flood of minor characters diminishes. Toward the end of the book, the story seems to drag, but Piper is able to wrap up the plot before too much momentum is lost and arrives at a satisfying conclusion.

Although written in the 1960s, the book brings up many issues that are pertinent today. Piper’s descriptions of climate change, corporate and government distortion of science, and the need for ecological preservation make the story seem, at times, like it was written in the present day. The issue that becomes the centerpiece of the last half of the book, whether Fuzzies are sentient beings, is not as esoteric as it appears. Many of today’s most vexing ethical issues, such as abortion, stem cell research, and euthanasia, are in part, a debate over what divides a living thing from a sentient human being. To Piper’s credit, he makes the debate in his novel entertaining as it is enlightening. I finished the novel with both a smile and something to think about.

Rating: 8/10

The reader: Maria Lectrix delivers a delightful reading of a book she seems to love. Her voicing of the Fuzzies’ “yeeps” is a high-pitched squeal that sticks in the mind. She does an admirable job reading the other characters parts, though I would have preferred if she had made each voice more distinct so the characters could be more readily identified. I won’t say this is a perfect recording. There is a hiss when listening at higher volume and she stumbles over a word a few times. Yet, none of this interfered with my enjoyment of the novel, which in my mind, is the mark of a good storyteller.

Posted by Seth

Review of Of Fire and Night by Kevin J. Anderson

September 21, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

Science Fiction Audiobook Review

Science Fiction Audiobook - Of Fire and Night: Saga of the Seven Suns Book 5 by Kevin J. AndersonOf Fire and Night: The Saga of Seven Suns Book 5
By Kevin J. Anderson; Read by David Colacci
16 CD’s or 2 MP3-CDs – 19 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: 2006
ISBN: 9781597372176 (CD), 9781597372213 (MP3-CD)
Themes: / Science Fiction / Space Opera / Military / Colonization / Alien Races / Political Intrigue / War /

In the science fiction/fantasy world, it’s not uncommon to be presented with the distinct challenge of writing a review of a middle volume of an ongoing saga without revealing anything that might spoil the previous volumes for potential readers. I’m very enthusiastic about this worthwhile series, though, so the job is made easier. In short, I’ve enjoyed all five books in the Saga of Seven Suns to date, and this volume in particular.

The Saga of Seven Suns is an epic space opera by the prolific Kevin J. Anderson. As the fifth volume in the epic, Of Fire and Night has much backstory and a couple of volumes to go before the story ends. In this book, humankind faces serious odds in a war against the Hydrogues, an alien race that lives inside gas giant planets. As faction after faction turns against the humans, things are dire indeed. Political and military maneuverings amongst humans and aliens are the order of the day here as humanity fights for their very survival.

Other players include the faeros, who are beings that live in suns. The Green Priests who are changed humans that are able to communicate with each other through the living World Tree, no matter where they are. The Roamers, a human faction of space dwellers that are determined to be separate from the Earth-based Hansa, but are called back into the fold by the threat to all humanity. And the enigmatic Ildyrians, whose entire history is collected in a book called “The Saga of Seven Suns”. In this universe, Anderson has created a long list of compelling characters and a darned good story.

Following this now for five volumes (all available on audio – the first two from Recorded Books and the rest from Brilliance Audio), this series has lived up to the hopes I had for it. It is thoroughly entertaining, and I find myself eager for the next volume, which is due next year. Anderson turns up the heat with each book, and juggles the many ingredients of the saga like a masterful chef. I highly recommend the entire series. It’s science fiction that has the “kick your shoes off and settle in” quality of an epic fantasy.

David Colacci is also masterful in his narration, and I’m not using that word lightly. I find him on par with some of the best narrators out there. He was as engaging and entertaining as any narrator I’ve heard throughout this long audiobook. There are some readers that I very much look forward to hearing, and Colacci is now on that list.

And a tip of the hat to the sound engineers. At times, Colacci’s voice is enhanced, like when a hydrogue is speaking, for example. I’ve said over and over again on this site how terrible a mistake it is to do that in an unabridged novel, and yet here it is, perfectly done. The vocal enhancements were sparse and completely effective.

In addition, each audiobook after the first in the series has a “the story so far” segment of significant length (20+ minutes of detail). I appreciate that very much as I’ve listened to the audiobooks as they’ve been released, around a year apart. I checked, and the segment is indeed part of the print version of the books. I found it a particularly helpful part of each audiobook, and am glad it was included.

LINKS

  • Saga of Seven Suns section of Kevin J. Anderson’s website
  • Audio Sample of this book from Brilliance Audio
  • Posted by Scott D. Danielson