Commentary: MP3-CD Audiobooks (old and new)

January 25, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Commentary 

SFFaudio Commentary

The video below is a quick exploration of the MP3-CD audiobook format. It’s my favourite format for physical audiobooks. The packaging is small, the files are ready to be used, and they are cheaper audiobooks than their regular CD equivalent. The only disadvantage to the MP3-CD format is they don’t play on all CD players, and the ones they do play on may limit the volume output.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Books In Motion: 40% off sale

March 2, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

SFFaudio News

Books In MotionBooksInMotion.com, a publisher we clearly don’t link to enough, is having a:

“Incredible 40% Off St. Patrick’s Day Sale!”

Now through St. Patrick’s Day (March 17, 2010) get 40% OFF your purchase of library, retail and downloaded audiobooks at BooksInMotion.com. Use coupon code “PADDY” at checkout. Offer not available for rental orders.

[Thanks to Erik Burggraaf for the tip!]

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Vortex Blaster by E.E. "Doc" Smith

March 2, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Audiobook Review

Audiobook - Vortex Blaster by Doc E E SmithVortex Blaster
By E.E. “Doc” Smith; Read by Reed McColm
1 MP3-CD or 6 CDs – Approx. 7.5 hrs [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Books in Motion
Published: 2007
ISBN: 159607793X (MP3-CD); 1596077921 (CDs)
Themes: / Science Fiction / Aliens / Atomic Power / Galactic Civilizations /

I was pleasantly surprised listening to this new audiobook. My past experience with Smith’s books has been less than stellar. On more than one occasion, I’ve cast his novels down unfinished in favor of something else. E. E. “Doc” Smith is one of the most revered names in SF. So I’ve always thought I must be missing something. Anybody who knows my tastes or my podcast knows that I love old SF (as well as new). I’ve always found his overly heroic heroes and his wimpy, fainting females hard to care about. So when I received this new title, my expectations were not the highest.

Neil “Storm” Cloud is the main protagonist and the “Vortex Blaster” of the title. Uncontrolled atomic vortexes have been appearing on planets throughout the galaxy. The vortexes contain radiation and wildly incalescent temperatures. They only grow larger over time and threaten to destroy any worlds they appear upon. Think of them as nuclear tornadoes that never dissipate. Luckily, Cloud has a unique gift—a computational mind that is capable of astonishingly complex mathematics. As the novel opens we find out that he’s been working, without results, on a project to figure out how to stop the vortexes. He has just lost his wife and kids to one of these atomic infernos. Nearly suicidal and distraught, he leaves the project when he has a sudden inspiration on how to stop the phenomena. He has to be in the center of the vortex and has to set off a duodec explosion equal to the energy of the nuclear storm. And because of his unique computational mind, he’s the only man that can do it—and thus becomes the Vortex Blaster. Cloud’s new ability makes him very much in demand. He’s soon traveling across the galaxy to put out the worst vortexes until he finds himself set upon by space pirates, warring aliens, and a mad scientist.

If this all sounds rather pulpy and fun— it is. Vortex Blaster mixes ripsnorting adventure with a jaw-dropping sense of wonder. No one would accuse “Doc” Smith of being a great prose stylist. But if you’re picking up an audiobook called Vortex Blaster, you’re probably not reading it for the style. Actually, Smith is a much better writer than I’d previously thought. “Storm” Cloud is a seasoned, sometimes cynical protagonist. In the second half of the novel he meets Joan, a telepathic genius, and romance ensues. Joan is resourceful and smart – no young, thin beauty. Each of his aliens have unique characteristics too. The entire novel is leavened with wit and humor to contrapose the serious tone.

You may wonder if this title is part of his famous “Lensman” series. It is definitely a stand-alone novel but it is set in the same universe as the Lensman stories. Vortex Blaster is tangentially related, but can be enjoyed without reading any of the other books in the series.

As narrator for this title, Reed McColm handles the vast array of human and especially alien characters with unerring deftness. He nails the aliens individual eccentricities through voice and accents. He handles the narration for several “Doc” Smith’s audiobooks that are published by Books in Motion. Mr. McColm’s talents are a perfect fit to E.E. “Doc” Smith’s super science space epics.

Review of Guardians Of The West by David Eddings

February 28, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Audiobook Review

Science Fiction Audiobook - Guardians of the West by David EddingsGuardians Of The West (Book #1 of the Malloreon)
By David Eddings; Read by Cameron Beierle
14 CDs , 1 MP3 CD or Cassettes- Aprox. 15 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Books in Motion
Published: 2006
ISBN: 1596072377 (MP3-CD), 1596072369 (CDs), 1596072350 (Cassettes)
Themes: / Fantasy / Magic / War / Magical Creatures / Wizards / Gods /

Guardians Of The West is the first book in a five book series called the The Malloreon. There’s a previous five volume series, The Belgariad, that takes place in this same fantasy setting. In fact, Guardians Of The West picks up shortly after The Belgariad’s ending. I had never read The Belgariad series, so I had to play catch-up listening to this title.

After a prologue that was obviously written as a refresher to those who had read the previous series, the story gets underway. The tale unfolds slowly enough. The large cast of characters are easy to get to know and are varied and interesting in themselves. There is Errand, a naive child with special gifts. Polgara, who is a motherly near-immortal. And her father, Belgrath, a boozing, womanizer, a real Falstaffian character until things get serious.

The novel’s central characters switches to the young king, Garion, who we find to be having trouble with his new spirited queen, Ce’Nedra. The plot really begins to move when there are hints of a new dark power known only as Zandramas. The pacing remains leisure through the first half of the novel. After the climatic ending to the first series, I suppose Eddings needed to maneuver and reintroduce the cast to his readers and create a new major conflict. This could have been frustrating if wasn’t for Eddings’ gift for dialog and characterization.

This book needed a talented voice actor to carry off the large and varied cast. Sprawling fantasy novels may be the most challenging genre for an actor to convey. Cameron Beierle does it all with unequivocal panache. His very intonations carry enough characterization that Eddings’ descriptions of characters become redundant. He uses many accents that seem entirely appropriate to the characters. Like Harry Potter’s narrator, Jim Dale, he has a seemingly endless repertoire of voices. I’d go so far as to call Cameron Beierle the American Jim Dale.

If you haven’t read or listened to Eddings’ Belgariad series, I’m sure that’s the place to start. The first book in the series is called Pawn of Prophecy and it along with all the books in the two series are available from Books In Motion. And all narrated by Cameron Beierle!

New Arrivals – Doc Smith, Octavia Butler, Robert A. Heinlein

February 22, 2007 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Recent Arrivals 

Science Fiction Audiobook Recent Arrivals

Three new titles from three different publishers.

Audiobook - Vortex Blaster by Doc E E SmithVortex Blaster
By E.E. “Doc” Smith; Read by Reed McColm
1 MP3 Disc or 6 CDs, Approx. 7.5 hrs – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Books In Motion
Published: 2007
ISBN: 159607793X (MP3 disc); 1596077921 (CDs)

From the back cover:
One man against the basic energy of the universe, unleashed in ravening fury that was “Storm” Cloud. Unique was the only way to describe him, yet alone in his single-handed battle. The appalling destructiveness of a loose atomic vortex could be cancelled out only by destroying the vortex itself. While not even the most massive and modern of electronic computers could figure out how to destroy a loose vortex, “Storm” Cloud could and did.

To Galactic Civilization, the loose vortices were just one menace among many. It was “Storm’s” unique brain, itself a computer with fantastic powers that enabled him to select and direct a duodecaplylatomate bomb with exactly the right energy to snuff each vortex out of existence. The day a runaway vortex exploded in his home was the day “Storm” Cloud became the Vortex Blaster!

Science Fiction Audiobook - Fledgling by Octavia Butler read by Tracey LeighFledgling
By Octavia E. Butler; Read by Tracey Leigh
10 CDs, Appox. 12.5 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: BBC Audiobooks America
Published: 2007
ISBN: 9780792746713

From the back cover:
Fledgling, the late Octavia E. Butler’s final novel, is the story of an apparently young, amnesiac girl whose alarmingly un-human needs and abilities lead her to a startling conclusion: she is in fact a genetically modified, 53-year-old vampire. Forced to discover what she can about her stolen former life, she must at the same time learn who wanted–and still wants–to destroy her and those she cares for, and how she can save herself. Fledgling is a captivating novel that tests the limits of “otherness” and questions what it means to be truly human.

Science Fiction Audiobook - Rocket Ship Galileo by Robert A. HeinleinRocket Ship Galileo
By Robert A. Heinlein; Read by Spider Robinson
5 CDs, 4 Cassettes or 1 MP3 disc – 5.5 hrs [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2007
ISBN: 9780786162765 (CDs); 9780786147892 (cassettes); 9780786172092(MP3 disc)

From the back cover:
Ross Jenkins, Art Mueller, and Morris Abrams are not your average high-schools students. While other kids are cruising around in their cars or playing ball, this trio, known as the Galileo Club, is experimenting with rocket fuels, preparing for their future education at technical colleges.

Art’s uncle, the nuclear physicist Dr. Donald Cargraves, offers them the opportunity of a lifetime: to construct and crew a rocket that will take them to the moon. Cargraves believes their combined ingenuity and enthusiasm can actually make this dream come true. But there are those who don’t share their dream and who will stop at nothing to keep their rocket grounded.

The Time Traveler of the Time Traveler Show podcast.

Recent arrivals

December 15, 2006 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Recent Arrivals 

Science Fiction Audiobook Recent Arrivals

Science Fiction Audiobook - Triplanetary by Doc E. E. SmithTriplanetary
Lensman Series #1
By E.E. “DOC” SMITH; Read by Reed McComb
CDs and MP3 editions- Aprox. 10 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Books in Motion
Published: 2006
ISBN: MP3 – 1596074507/CDs – 1596074493

By the father of the Space Opera genre.

From the back cover:

From the atomic age in Atlantis to a world remote in space and time, two incredible ancient races, the Arisians and the Eddorians, are in the midst of an interstellar war with Earth as the prize. The Arisians, using advanced mental technology, have foreseen the invasion of their galaxy by the corrupt and evil Eddorians, so they begin a breeding program on every planet in their universe. Their goal…to produce super warriors who can hold off the invading Eddorians.

Science Fiction Audiobook - Guardians of the West by David EddingsGuardians of the West
Book #1 of the Malloreon
By David Eddings; Read by Cameron Beierle
CDs and MP3 editions- Aprox. 15 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Books in Motion
Published: 2006
ISBN: MP3 – 1596072377/CDs – 1596072369

From the back cover:

Garion has slain the evil God Torak and been crowned King of Riva. The Prophecy has been fulfilled–or so it seems. While the strange child Errand was growing up in the Vale of Aldur with Polgara and Durnick, showing only occasional flashes of inexplicable knowledge and power, Garion is learning to rule and be a husband to his fiery little Queen, Ce’Nedra.

The Time Traveler