LibriVox: Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 018

June 6, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

LibriVoxHere’s another LibriVox short story collection for you. As usual there are a few repeats sprinkled among the first time recorded tales. Of those latter tales I’ve made a few notes:

Narrator Bellona Times has a nice setup and a decent voice for Breakaway. This tale is Science Fiction for astronauts. An utterly unselfconscious telling of the first Earth to Moon mission – written and published more than a dozen years before it actually happened.

In Edgar Allan Poe’s satire Some Words With A Mummy an amateur Egyptologist gets his hands on an ancient Egyptian mummy. He decides to unwrap it, with startling results. This isn’t Poe’s greatest story, it seems to be very much of its era, but because it is still Poe it is still very good. Narrated by the ever capable Gregg Margarite.

Mex was written by what appears to be a Laurence M. Jannifer (under a pseudonym). It is hard to follow as narrator Daniele races through the standard LibriVox introduction then does some very strange things to what should be Mexican accented English.

I hadn’t even heard of Walt Sheldon prior to the two tales released in this collection. First up, Two Plus Two Makes Crazy has a great title! It depicts a Logan’s Run-like society as seen from the tech department. Fun.

A wacky physics professor stars in the other Sheldon tale: This Is Klon Calling. This one is a mite predictable, but it is entertaining nonetheless. Both Sheldon tales are read by the ever talented Gregg Margarite.

LibriVox - Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 018Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 018
By various; Read by various
10 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 2 Hours 6 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: June 3, 2009
Science fiction (abbreviated SF or sci-fi with varying punctuation and case) is a broad genre of fiction that often involves sociological and technical speculations based on current or future science or technology. This is a reader-selected collection of short stories that entered the US public domain when their copyright was not renewed.

Podcast feed:

http://librivox.org/bookfeeds/short-science-fiction-collection-018.xml

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

LibriVox - Belly Laugh by Randall GarrettBelly Laugh
By Randall Garrett; Read by glenford2000
1 |MP3| – Approx. 6 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: June 3, 2009
You hear a lot of talk these days about secret weapons. If it’s not a new wrinkle in nuclear fission, it’s a gun to shoot around corners and down winding staircases. Or maybe a nice new strain of bacteria guaranteed to give you radio-active dandruff. Our own suggestion is to pipe a few of our television commercials into Russia and bore the enemy to death.

Breakaway by Stanley GimbleBreakaway
By Stanley Gimble; Read by Bellona Times
1 |MP3| – Approx. 14 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: June 3, 2009
She surely got her wish … but there was some question about getting what she wanted. From Astounding Science Fiction December 1955.

LibriVox - Cully by Jack EganCully
By Jack Egan; Read by Bellona Times
1 |MP3| – Approx. 14 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: June 3, 2009
By all the laws of nature, he should have been dead. But if he were alive … then there was something he had to find. From Amazing Stories, January 1963.

LIBRIVOX Science Fiction - Earthmen Bearing Gifts by Frederic BrownEarthmen Bearing Gifts
By Fredric Brown; Read by Bookman
1 |MP3| – Approx. 7 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: June 3, 2009
“Mars had gifts to offer and Earth had much in return—if delivery could be arranged!” First published in the June 1960 issue of Galaxy magazine.

Fantastic Universe January 1957Mex
By Laurence M. Janifer; Read by Daniele
1 |MP3| – Approx. 5 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: June 3, 2009
Talented William Logan [Laurence M. Janifer], though he hails from Dodger territory, tells a quiet story from down near the Mexican border, where men are very close to ancestral memories and to the things which dwell in the shadows. Logan is one of the more interesting of the newer writers. From Fantastic Universe January 1957.

LibriVox - The Putnam Tradition by Sonya DormanThe Putnam Tradition
By Sonya Dorman Read by Bellona Times
1 |MP3| – Approx. 15 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: June 3, 2009
Through generations the power has descended, now weaker, now stronger. And which way did the power run in the four-year-old in the garden, playing with a pie plate? From Amazing Stories January 1963.

LibriVox - Some Words With A Mummy by Edgar Allan PoeSome Words With A Mummy
By Edgar Allan Poe; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 36 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: June 3, 2009
Some amateur Egyptologists get their hands on an ancient Egyptian mummy. They decide to unwrap it, with startling results. First published in the April 1845 issue of American Review: A Whig Journal.

Summit by Mack ReynoldsSummit
By Mack Reynolds; Read by M.White
1 |MP3| – Approx. 10 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: June 3, 2009
Almost anything, if it goes on long enough, can be reduced to, first a Routine, and then, to a Tradition. And at the point it is, obviously, Necessary. First published in Astounding Science Fiction’s February, 1960 issue.

Fantastic Universe August - September 1953This Is Klon Calling
By Walt Sheldon; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 9 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: June 3, 2009
One sure way to live dangerously is to become a practical joker. Should you have any doubts about it you might ask Professor Dane. From the Aug-Sept 1953 issue of Fantastic Universe.

Fantastic Universe March 1954Two Plus Two Makes Crazy
By Walt Sheldon; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 9 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: June 3, 2009
Walt Sheldon is bitter-bright in this imaginative short satire of Man’s sell-out by a group of staunch believers in the infallibility of numbers. From Fantastic Universe March, 1954.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Plot to Save Socrates by Paul Levinson

September 23, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

Science Fiction Audiobook Review

The Plot to Save Socrates by Paul LevinsonThe Plot To Save Socrates
By Paul Levinson; Read by Mark Shanahan
7 CDs – 10 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Listen & Live Audio
Published: 2006
ISBN: 1593160747
Themes: / Science Fiction / Time Travel / Cloning / Philosophy / Ancient Greece / Ancient Rome / Ancient Egypt / 19th Century New York /

“Think not those faithful who praise all thy words and actions;
but those who kindly reprove thy faults.”
Socrates (c.470 BC – 399 BC) Greek philosopher

2042 AD. Sierra, a young classics scholar has discovered a lost Platonic scroll. Its contents will lead her to attempt to trounce the awful punishment that was imposed upon Socrates, the pre-eminent philosopher of the golden age of Greece. Joining her is her fiance Max, her thesis advisor Tom, Alcibides (a famous Greek orator and friend to Socrates), 19th century New York publisher W.H. Appleton, as well as the famously talented inventor, Heron of Alexandria.

Levinson opens the novel well with grad student Sierra Waters discovering a lost Socratic dialogue. It is a terrific opening, and I think this is what got my hopes so high. This isn’t a terrible novel, it just doesn’t grab me like I wanted it to. It is, rather, a workman-like time travel adventure. I was hoping it would be something deeper. In terms of pace, there is at least one too many characters. And none of them, including Socrates, engaged me as they should have. This is doubly troubling considering that the ideas weren’t sufficent for the novel length. Both the time travel itself and the mechanism of the time travel (a set of chairs created by a mysterious time traveler from the future) are sidelined and remain virtually unexplained. There are some interesting reveals sprinkled here and there and Levinson gives a decent twist-ending but it is only satisfying on one level and doesn’t and fufil the promise I thought it had. I never became enraptured by the story. There are unfilled gaps in the narrative. It feels as if the novel were abridged, though the packaging copy assures me that it wasn’t. The biggest single disapointment for me was the lack of more than a surficial philosophical content. Socrates reasons for allowing himself to be executed by an Athenian jury are only lightly touched upon. Levinson has an interest in philosophy, but Socrates and the Socratic method deserve a stupendous Science Fiction showcase and not this – a light adventure yarn. Had the spartan but solid contents of the plot been rendered to novellete or novella length the story would probably have worked far better. To his credit Levinson includes Socrates’ distrust of the written word. The written word is fixed, something that can’t be quibbled about as easily as can the thoughtful power of spoken word. Had Socrates known about audiobooks I think he’d have questioned the recorded word too.

Narrating duites on this one are by Mark Shanahan. Shannahan has a decent range, offering some distinction between the many characters. His job however was made more difficult than it should have been; Levinson’s characters aren’t fully dimensional. The narration is accompanied by sound effects and a situational background noise. I was disapointed with the inclusion of sound effects. If the text says “the doorbell rang.” you don’t need the sound effect of a doorbell ringing. If the narrator then reads the line “the doorbell rang.” not only don’t you need the sound of a doorbell ringing it interupts the flow of the story to include it. Less intrusive, but certainly no less unnecessary is the occasional inclusion of background noise designed to be appropriate to where a scene takes place. A pub, with a humm of clinking of glasses and the buzz of distant conversations, a seaside with the cry of seagulls and the slosh of waves. I get it, we’re in a pub or on a beach. But the absence from the rest of the narrative makes these scenes stand out in a way they shouldn’t and thus paradoxically distances the listener rather than drawing him or her in. The music is actually pretty good and definitely works better than the rest of the production details. The music fades in and out, bookending scenes. There are also one or two sentences that were missed in the final pass. Shannahan will read a line, and then read it again.

Upon reading other reviews scattered around the net I see that more people seem to have become caught up in the novel than I did. I envy them. I wanted to like this novel a lot more than I did. One reviewer pointed out that Levinson’s characterization and was like that of Isaac Asimov’s. I don’t disagree, I just think that was one of Asimov’s few weakness. Another reviewer pointed out how well constructed the chronology of the time travel was. Again, I don’t disagree, it was well woven. Maybe my problem is that most of my favorite time travel stories are of a much shorter length. If that is your problem too, bear that in mind joining in on The Plot To Save Socrates

Posted by Jesse Willis

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