The SFFaudio Podcast #356 – READALONG: The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester

February 15, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 


The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #356 – Jesse, Paul, and Marissa talk about The Demolished by Alfred Bester.

Talked about on today’s show:
1952, 1953, 1951, the serialization, a futuristic old book, purple and green with the big eye, The Stars My Destination, weird corporations, quasi-computer intelligences, Marissa didn’t love it, dated elements, 1950s women, really funny, the deleted prologue (is very confusing), damn amazing, so much in so many pages, it doesn’t baby you, many ideas per page, keeping track, not great as an audiobook, page play that can’t be seen in the audiobook, the narration is great, playful with typography, SMS style talk, the Amazon reviews, @ symbols in the ebook, Jerry Chuch, he’s an Esper 2, a textual clue to his nature, (lap)², the audiobook store, an illiterate society, paperbooks are extinct, a post-literate society, when you start listening to audiobooks…, shame for not reading textual books, reading aloud as entertainment, future societies, better as a paperbook on your first read, font size changes, the reader does a lot of the work, an amazing narration, dissension has begun, image of a laughing horse, more than one text version, the original serialization in Galaxy, the finished draft is the paperbook, changes between the text, Monarch vs. Sacrament, “enhanced books”, the esper world, the best adaptation of of The Demolished Man is Babylon 5, terrible and yet essential, the Alfred Bester episodes of Babylon 5, The Lord Of The Rings in space, it’s Dune, the Psi-Corp, “demolition”, the character of Alfred Bester, a dark Powell, deliciously played by Walter Koenig, evil, powerful, charismatic, on Spaceland, The Hunger Games, an unreal world, Sinclair, rogue telepaths, what does it mean if psi-powers were real, the breeding program, marriage, mundanes and telepaths, the coming war, his girlfriend is in the freezer, D’Courtney was a latent telepath, Ben Reich’s half sister, throat cancer, a psychic-scream, Powell and Reich (also in The Stars My Destination), Ben Reich = good money, Powell = power, Dishonest Abe (Lincoln Powell), Jerry Church (corrupted by the money), when telepaths make love, soooo Freudian, New York, sooo dated, demolishing the daughter, a sexy-father figure (super creepy), room for progression, who is Ben Reich’s heir?, who is D’courtney’s heir?, Powell now has all the power and all the money, he’s the bad guy (if you squint), the reconstruction happens in Star Trek episode (to Uhura), Nomad, we misread the code too, an inverted detective story, how-done-it, how-to-catch-’em, a locked room mystery, adapting it to TV, a Philip K. Dick-style mindfuck, a hugh solipsist section, artificial personalities, false memories, no stars in the sky, Star Trek: The Next Generation: Remember Me, going back to the womb, back to the beginning, explosion, concussion, the man with no face, suddenly blood is on him, very Lady Macbeth, a premonition of his future, he’s afraid of himself, The Prisoner‘s final episode, panettone, just 175 pages, the Hugo award, creepy stuff, the gilded corpse, ReDemolished, an essay by Bester on how novels are written, the book is dedicated to H.L. Gold (editor of Galaxy magazine), Astounding, Amazing, John W. Campbell, Jr., Scientology, ESP stuff, DARPA, remote viewing, one of Jesse’s profs, premonitions, Slan by A.E. van Vogt, power fantasy, “fans are slans”, the Minority Report thingy, no sense of the poor, in the Babylon 5 universe…, resentment of PSI, super-powerful, Babylon 5 is pretty amazing, The Best Of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord, Julian May, tension, a caste system, psionic aliens, class struggles, Chooka Frood (the corrupt brothel-keeper), a role playing game character, ceramicly beautiful, a dream, a blind albino who plays gimpsters, “accident”, Duffy Wyg&,

Eight, sir; seven, sir;
Six, sir; five, sir;
Four, sir; three, sir;
Two, sir; one!
Tenser, said the Tensor.
Tenser, said the Tensor.
Tension, apprehension,
And dissension have begun.

Doctor Who, The Master, Jo’s rhyme, Mary Had A Little Lamb…, jingles, Bester wrote radio dramas, strange observations, everybody is in the business, if you are at a psychic party…, a throwaway line about the old deaf mutes…, blackmail, no man is an island, “make your enemies on purpose”, he’s an awful man, William Edgars from Babylon 5, Donald Trump, how he earned his money, that embrace, their hugging, we are not ignorant but we aren’t fully party to Ben’s plans, eating candy, there was no bullet, an apache duster, the cover of Galaxy, “humans are weird”, compact death, if we are paying very close attention we should be noticing all the details that aren’t there, the missing bullet hole, the closer you read it the better it pays you, a million more themes, we go to Venus we go to Mars, written today it would be a 600 page doorstop that wouldn’t do half the stuff, “I liked dishonest Abe”, “absolutely scary”, “let’s foreground that”, “I might marry you I’m not really sure about that”, “punch me around”, Coming Attraction by Fritz Leiber, a parody of Mickey Spillane, The Man Who Japed, “he shot her in the groin”, there whole world is completely strange, New York, the future computer, typewriter hands and punch cards, glimpses into…, rushing towards demolition, Old Man Mose, “kittenish”, they’ve turned over parts of their society to…, horrible but compelling, damaged or mean or weird, the game of Sardine, Smee by A.M. Burrage, party games, who ends up alone?, everyone is together and naked, a bunch of adults playing naked hide-and-seek, parallels to the fake solipsistic world, “here’s how I did it”, the delusionary world, he finally had to face the man with no face, I couldn’t tell him the truth…, we were buying it the whole time!, skepticism, admissible evidence and objective proof, Powell looking at Ben, the mysterious parcel, it’s a present for you Ben, clumsy hands, we’re all of just nursemaids in this crazy world, Powell friend, “listen normals”, we see the truth that you cannot see, mind to mind and heart to heart, Powell was the villain the whole time, William Edgars virus, “solve the telepath problem once and for all”, something that Reich never does, a moment of self-awareness, he’s a monster but at least he feels bad about it, Garibaldi’s manipulation, revealing all on the train, Harlan Ellison, Powell is secretly evil, we’re distracted by Reich, Inception (2010), the horror lies, tragic despair, D’Courtney’s secret wish (he wanted to die), his son gave him what he wanted, on some level Ben Reich is a telepath, everything Powell says is a lie, the more you read it the better it is going to get, you need to go into analysis, unspool it, re-reading, one of the best audiobooks, Joe Dunlop, Isis Audiobooks, from 1989, still for sale as tapes, it totally worked with the story, a good sign of a good narration.

Signet Books - The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester

Posted by Jesse Willis

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

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

[audio drama] Review of Brad Lansky and the Rogue Era

April 29, 2015 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Audio Drama 

SFFaudio Review

Audio Drama - Brad Lansky and the Rogue EraBrad Lansky and the Rogue Era
1 hour 25 minutes – [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Protophonic
Published: 2015
Themes: / Audio Drama / Science Fiction / artificial intelligence / biological life / augmented humans / artificial life / rogue planets /

I’m running out of adjectives to describe Protophonic’s Brad Lansky series of lush science fiction audio drama. The latest episode is Brad Lansky and the Rogue Era, and it’s another gem.

I admire the Brad Lansky series for a couple of reasons. First and most obvious is the sound. This production is a rich soundscape that invites a listener to settle in, eyes closed. Again, J.D. Venne (writer) and Dieter Zimmermann (producer) inspire the listener’s imagination by using aural cues instead of description to provide the setting for the story.

Second, the Brad Lansky stories are genuine hard science fiction. Brad Lansky and the Rogue Era opens with a speech given by Dr. Brinn Diaz, an augmented human. She discusses artificial life (a-life) and biological life (b-life). “B-life has been losing the race since the singularity a millennium ago,” she says. She is both “project and project architect”, having changed her body in various ways, including raising the number of brains on board to three.

Brad Lansky and Dr. Diaz play an important role in an encounter with an invisible world that hurtles toward Earth, threatening to eliminate b-life for good.

I highly recommend this episode and the whole series. It’s great fun and wonderfully rich unique audio.

Enjoy a sample: Brad Lansky and the Rogue Era Trailer

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

[audio drama] The Left Hand of Darkness

April 13, 2015 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Fantasy Audio Drama - The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin - BBC4

Available to stream for the next 29 days at BBC Radio 4 is the first part of a new audio drama adapted from Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1969 novel, The Left Hand of Darkness. Part 2 arrives Saturday!

Also wonderful is a half hour programme called Ursula K. Le Guin at 85: Naomi Alderman talks to leading novelist Ursula Le Guin about her life and work and hears from literary fans including David Mitchell and Neil Gaiman.

Ursula K. Le Guin

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

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