Review of The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne M. Valente

November 16, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

The Girl Who Soared Over FairylandThe Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two (Fairyland #3)
By Catherynne M. Valente; Read by Catherynne M. Valente
Publisher: Dreamscape
Publication Date: 1 October 2013
[UNABRIDGED] – 8 hours, 23 minutes

Themes: / fantasy / YA / children’s / fairy / coming-of-age /

Publisher summary:

September misses Fairyland and her friends Ell, the Wyverary, and the boy Saturday. She longs to leave the routines of home and embark on a new adventure. Little does she know that this time, she will be spirited away to the moon, reunited with her friends, and find herself faced with saving Fairyland from a moon-Yeti with great and mysterious powers.

This was a lovely third book in the Fairyland series, where September has struggled to return to Fairyland and is wondering if you can ever really go back. The characters left behind in Fairyland have struggled too, missing her and loving her. Life apart is not always easy.

September meets a few versions of Saturday and starts to question whether she gets choices in her life, and between that and the nostalgia of childhood and facing being a grownup and what that means for her fairy land and fairy friends, this book is a bit tinged in sadness. It also includes Valente’s amazing imagination that we’ve seen from her poetry to Palimpsest (still my favorite) to the very underdiscussed Prester John books.

This is the first book of Valente’s that I’ve listened to, and Catherynne M. Valente is a marvelous performer of her own work. Her voice has the versatility of an old-Hollywood actress, with moments of great rich depth. I feel like going back and listening to everything she’s ever read. Her performance enriches her worlds, and I highly recommend the audio.

The Fairyland books are highly recommended, starting with The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.  Perfect for kids, young adults, and adults who can still dream.

Posted by Jenny Colvin

Recent Arrivals: Welcome To Bordertown edited by Holly Black and Ellen Kushner

May 30, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Recent Arrivals 

SFFaudio Recent Arrivals

Just crossed the border, literally (it came in the back of a Subaru), here’s a Brilliance Audio audiobook collection that does almost everything right! First, check out the awesome cover art for Welcome To Bordertown:


BRILLIANCE AUDIO - Welcome To Bordertown edited by Holly Black and Ellen Kushner

Next, note the detailed track listings on the back:

BRILLIANCE AUDIO - Welcome To Bordertown edited by Holly Black and Ellen Kushner

So that’s a look at the outside, inside the discs themselves don’t detail their contents, which is bad, but not fatal (considering you’ve got the back of the audiobook to go by). As to the audio content itself, well I’m looking forward to picking up stories here and there as I research the authors more – that’s usually how I listen to collections these days.

This is the official description:

Bordertown: a city on the Border between the human world and the elfin realm. A place where neither magic nor technology can be counted on, where elf and human kids run away to find themselves. The Way from our world to the Border has been blocked for thirteen long years. . . . Now the Way is open once again — and Bordertown welcomes a new set of seekers and dreamers, misfits and makers, to taste life on the Border.

Here are thirteen interconnected stories, one graphic story, and eight poems — all new work by some of today’s best urban fantasy, fantasy, and slipstream writers

Now I’ve already checked out Neil Gaiman’s entry, which is a poem entitled The Song Of The Song. And I listened to Holly Black reading her own introductory essay. In it she credits the original Bordertown books as ‘creating the urban fantasy subgenre’. Ellen Kushner, Black’s co-editor, reads Terri Windling’s introductory essay, which details the background for the Bordertown series itself. It’s is described as a “Thieves’ World for teens.” Windling also talks about the phenomenon of shared worlds. Also, and this is pretty cool, there’s an additional editorial introduction written, and read, by Ellen Kushner (one that’s not found in the paperbook edition at all).

The only thing missing from this great audiobook edition is the story named Fair Trade by Sara Ryan and Dylan Meconis. But that’s probably because it’s actually a comic and so it would have been very hard to translate into audio (there are two panels of it HERE). And finally, here’s a promo video for the book:

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #159 – NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRIVALS

May 7, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #159 – Scott, Jesse, Tamahome, and Charles Tan talk about recently arrived audiobooks, new releases and more.

Talked about on today’s show:
Charles sent to World Fantasy, John Scalzi’s Fuzzy Nation is a reworking, Is WWW: Wonder by Robert J. Sawyer YA?, three from Angry Robot, Giant Thief by David Tallerman, Empire State by Adam Christopher is superhero noir, free comic book day, The Shadow comic by Garth Ennis, listening speeds, Dead Harvest by Chris F. Holm, Bolinda Audio from Australia, Dreamquake by Elizabeth Knox, YA is big, Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, “scare the crap out of little kids”, The Novice by Trudi Canavan, cozy fantasy, Dark Is The Moon by Ian Irvine, Hemlock Grove by Brian McGreevy, being developed for Netflix, polarizing, Angels Of Vengence by John Birmingham, futuristic Clancy?, White Horse by Alex Adams, Into The Black: Odyssey One by Evan Currie, ebook first, “I’m getting refreshed”, Jenny would like Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente, not Genevieve Valentine, Welcome To Bordertown edited by Ellen Kushner (Sfsignal interview) and Holly Black is all-new, “these stories are too wet”, A Handful Of Stars by Dana Stabenow is an older book, “Alaskans in space”, The Outcast Blade by John Courtenay has vampires, “well that’s disappointing”, how about steampunk?, the splitting of Warriors by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, Legends by Robert Silverberg, Scott thinks Far Horizons should be an audiobook, Agatha H. And The Clockwork Princess by Phil and Kaja Foglio, Girl Genius comics online, Dante Valentine series by Lilith Saintcrow, Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliassotti, “clockpunk”, Nightfall by Stephen Leather, soul legalities, “God is the ultimate scammer”, Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Infamous, paper books, Comedia Della Morte by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, usefulness of blurbs, The Company Of The Dead by David J. Kowalski, end of Scott’s stack, I didn’t know 8 Million Ways To Die by Lawrence Block was a book, lots from Audible Frontiers, Gregory Benford’s Galactic Center series with multiple narrators, Planet Of The Apes by Pierre Boulle, think of the movie inverted, “take your damn dirty hands off me”, Terry Bisson’s They’re Made Out Of Meat, Charles is reading the Shirley Jackson award nominees (horror and dark fantasy) to prepare for interviews, Peter Staub’s Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff, “it scared the pants off me”, where’s the John Joseph Adams anthology audiobooks?, Kim Stanley Robinson audio short story at Lightspeed Magazine, 2312 stays in the solar system, Mars trilogy if you like science, tons of new Robert Silverberg on Audible, The World Inside will be an HBO series, Scott liked Book Of Skulls, a bunch of Connie Willis, what’s on the horizon?, Existence by David Brin, Red Mars was a marathon, A Short, Sharp Shock by Kim Stanley Robinson, what kind of fantasy does he write?, John Scalzi’s Redshirts, bye Charles

The Shadow cover

 

Posted by Tamahome

Review of The Folded World by Catherynne M. Valente

March 10, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

The Folded World (A Dirge for Prester John, #2)The Folded World (A Dirge for Prester John #2)
By Catherynne M. Valente, Read by Ralph Lister
9 hours 18 minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: November 2011
ISBN: 1597802034
Themes: / Fantasy / Creatures / Monks / Quest / Immortality / War / Crusades / Parenting

Publisher Summary: When the mysterious daughter of Prester John appears on the doorstep of her father’s palace, she brings with her news of war in the West–the Crusades have begun, and the bodies of the faithful are washing up on the shores of Pentexore. Three narratives intertwine to tell the tale of the beginning of the end of the world: a younger, angrier Hagia, the blemmye-wife of John and Queen of Pentexore, who takes up arms with the rest of her nation to fight a war they barely understand, Vyala, a lion-philosopher entrusted with the care of the deformed and prophetic royal princess, and another John, John Mandeville, who in his many travels discovers the land of Pentexore–on the other side of the diamond wall meant to keep demons and monsters at bay.

These three voices weave a story of death, faith, beauty, and power, dancing in the margins of true history, illuminating a place that never was.

To fully appreciate this book, it is essential to first read The Habitation of the Blessed (A Dirge for Prester John #1), because The Folded World starts off right where the last book left off. The mythology of this trilogy is thick, and the second book builds nicely on what is developed in the first.  Where in The Habitation of the Blessed, the reader is introduced to all the fantastical creatures and the ways of the new lands, The Folded World digs deeper into the stories of some of the characters.  Although Prester John himself has lived with his blemmye wife for some time, he is still experiencing life as an outsider as he tries to put his own religion through the filters of the various beings he encounters.

It doesn’t help that the Crusades are going on, and the armies are getting closer.  Prester John doesn’t exactly fit in with his old life the way he used to.  This conflict is central to the development of the overarching story that I’m sure will continue in book #3.

While The Folded World lacked the breathtaking impact of the first book, probably just because the overall world was familiar to me, the same elements that I loved are present here – beautiful writing, a detailed mythical place with its own history and stories, and the clash between worlds.  There is one more book planned in this series, with the release date tentatively set for November 2012.

Posted by Jenny Colvin

2011 Nebula Nominees Audio

February 20, 2012 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

nebula iconThe 2011 Nebula Nominees have been announced.  Sfsignal has a good collection of links to free online text of the shorter works.  I’ll list all the available audio versions.  I think it’s just from Clarkesworld and Lightspeed (I found a few others).  Clarkesworld should make it easier to go from their online text versions to their online audio versions.  Jenny says listen to E. Lily Yu first.

Best Novella:

Catherynne M. Valente – Silently and Very Fast (Clarkesworld) – Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

Best Novellette:

Jake Kerr – The Old Equations (Lightspeed) – |MP3|

Best Short Story:

Adam-Troy Castro – Her Husband’s Hands  (Lightspeed) – |MP3|

Tom Crosshill – Mama, We are Zhenya, Your Son  (Lightspeed) – |MP3|

E. Lily Yu – The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees (Clarkesworld) – |MP3|

Ken Liu – The Paper Menagerie (Podcastle) – |MP3|

Nancy Fulda – Movement  (Escape Pod) – |MP3|

Posted by Tamahome

The SFFaudio Podcast #135 – NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRIVALS

November 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #135 – Scott, Jesse, Tamahome, and Jenny talk about recently arrived audiobooks, new releases and more.

Talked about on today’s show:
The Year’s Top Short SF Novels edited by Allan Kaster, including “Return to Titan” by Stephen Baxter (set in the Xeelee Sequence), “Jackie’s-Boy” by Steven Popkes, “The Sultan of the Clouds” by Geoffrey A. Landis, “Seven Cities of Gold” by David Moles, “A History of Terraforming” by Robert Reed, “Several Items of Interest” by Rick Wilber, and “Troika” by Alastair Reynolds.  Two were finalists for the Hugo Award this year.  The Seven Cities of Gold is also a video game!

Immortality, Inc. by Robert Sheckley, narrated by the amazing Bronson Pinchot. Originally published serially as “Time Killer” in Galaxy Science Fiction (1960).  Jesse wants to do this as a readalong, but Jenny wants something newer than 1960.

Earth Strike: Star Carrier, Book One by Ian Douglas.  Tamahome is a sucker for space, and this is the first of two books that are available in Audible.  Scott doesn’t care much for military sci-fi, but didn’t mind Starship Troopers, Ender’s Game, and Forever Peace.  What matter is the focus – Scott is looking for a good story, which is hard to find.  “Too much science?” Deep Space Nine.  “Not all Muslims are fanatic, lieutenant…” Is it too politically correct?  Tamahome is a sucker for women who kick ass too, this is right up his alley!

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, also Sputnik Sweetheart, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, A Wild Sheep Chase, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, After Dark.  46 hour commitment for the audio book, originally published as three separate volumes.  Jenny can’t stop reading it!  Aomame = “green peas.”  Publisher says it is a love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, and a dystopia to rival George Orwell.  Tamahome heard that Q sounds like “nine” in Japanese.  Don’t read too much Murakami in a row! Look for cats and spaghetti.

Five books by Philip K. Dick from Brilliance Audio – The Divine InvasionNow Wait for Last Year, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, The Simulacra, and Lies, Inc.  More details in Dick’s newly published journal, Exegesis. Reading about authors vs. just reading their work.  East of Eden on A Good Story is Hard to Find and Steinbeck’s novel journal.  Jesse relates more to life in the suburbs. Rewrite of “The Unteleported Man.”  Gregg Margarite discussed Exegesis on his podcast – “a lot of work to slog through.”

Lots of collections from Brilliance Audio – Wild Cards edited by George R. R. Martin, Wild Cards II: Aces High edited by George R. R. Martin, Songs of Love and Death edited by George R. R. Martin, and Down These Strange Streets edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. We complained about lack of contents and Brilliance has started including them – thank you!  Up next – contents printed on specific discs. George R. R. Martin is spending his time on anthologies because he is not your bitch!  Warriors anthology is cross-genre. Someone should make an audio book of Best of the Best edited by Gardner Dozois.  Tamahome likes “Trinity” by Nancy Kress, but the print in the book is too tiny for anyone over 40.

Manhattan in Reverse by Peter F. Hamilton. Only available outside of the United States, queue proprietary publisher rant by the SFF Audio crew, in fact Jenny posted a sassy one in her blog. Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct detective novels and a reimagined New York City.  Robert E. Howard does a similar thing with countries.  Perfectly genetically engineered female cops (Paula Myo from the Commonwealth Saga) end up with personal problems.

Two picks for post-apocalypse fans – Swan Song by Robert McCammon and A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.  Swan Song is highly rated.  Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon has been recommended to Scott multiple times.  Swan Song reminds Jenny of The Stand with a promise of fantastical elements. Destiny’s Road also comes out December 1.  Death and destruction ends in rejoicing!

Angry Robot and Brilliance Audio have published seven novels that Scott previously posted aboutDarkness Falling by Peter Crowther, Debris by Jo Anderton, Moxyland by Lauren Beukes, Reality 36 by Guy Haley, Roll: The Nightbound Land by Troy Jamieson, Triumff: Her Majesty’s Hero by Dan Abnett, and Zoo City by Lauren Beukes. Jenny heard Lauren Beukes on Writing Excuses, and Tamahome heard she won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Zoo City. Reality 36 has a pie fetish? Oh PI fetish. Tamahome likes cyberspace but not LARPing, John Anealio wrote an Angry Robot Theme song, What is wild magic? Maybe quail.  Angry Robot is doing interesting stuff, also won the World Fantasy Award for professionals in the field this year, and they are doing eBooks the right way.

The Cold Commands by Richard K. Morgan. Jesse will read books out of spite. “Dude! Your homophobia is calling.” “It’s fiction, not you!” From Tamahome’s second tier – Nothing to Lose: The Adventures of Captain Nothing by Steve Vernon.  Some confusion which should be cleared up when it is released.  Something may have been lost in the translation from the Nova Scotian. Might be like Dark Knight, except for actually being a bad guy.  Batman finding his voice, Batman vs. the Clown. The Folded World by Catherynne M. Valente (A Dirge for Prester John #2) – “she writes with the original unicorns.”  “That’s probably because she doesn’t actually have a head.” The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break by Steven Sherill.  One of the Neil Gaiman Presents titles.  “The Minotaur sits on an empty pickle bucket….” Anything like American Gods? Realistic restaurant world portrayal. All Clear by Connie Willis, half of this year’s Hugo Award.  Pavane by Keith Roberts is another Neil Gaiman Presents title.  Alternate history and steampunk?  Other novels of loosely related stories – Kirinyaga by Mike Resnick, Accelerando by Charles Stross, Voyage of the Space Beagle by A. E. van Gogt. Light by M. John Harrison – Tamahome finds it to be “unpleasant” between the masturbating and the killing.  Why is this one of Neil Gaiman’s top novels of the last 10 years?  Reinvention of space opera, but the end result is hard to take.  Stephen King’s newest – 11-22-63Ring by Stephen Baxter (from the Xeelee Sequence), Baxter even explains why aliens don’t visit in his Manifold Trilogy, which is based on the Fermi paradox. “That’s it!  Go to your rooms!”  “Everybody out of the pool!” Digital vs. disc, subscription vs. individual purchase, Audible.com sale, Black Friday and Cyber Monday – we are ready for holiday gift giving!  Evacuation Day instead of Thanksgiving. Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke, Jo Walton’s Revisiting The Hugos, the SF Masterworks series (from the U.K.), Jenny’s Around The World bookshelf

From Stephen Baxter’s Ring:

Lieserl was suspended inside the body of the Sun.

She spread her arms wide and lifted up her face. She was deep within the Sun’s convective zone, the broad mantle of turbulent material beneath the growing photosphere. Convective cells larger than the Earth, tangled with ropes of magnetic flux, filled the world around her with a complex, dynamic, three-dimensional tapestry. She could hear the roar of the great gas founts, smell the stale photons diffusing out toward space from the remote core.

Posted by Jenny Colvin

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