CBC: Nightfall: Assassin Game by John G. Fisher

May 22, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Online Audio 

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One of the very few legitimately Science Fiction stories in the CBC Nightfall series was this one, Assassin Game by John G. Fisher. It’s set in a then future in which all university students, in the top fifth percentile, are required to play an assassination game. Exceptional players are recruited by all the best transnational mega-corporations which offer free, but illegal, training in the summers. Chris Wiggins, a great voice actor best known perhaps for his role on Friday The 13th: The Series, plays the school’s president. And a very young sounding Saul Rubinek plays the protagonist, a student, and star player, who is unwilling to pick a sponsor. There’s a whole lot going on in this half hour show – with a big back-story, a vintage future sound design (Star Trek and Pac-Man), and a noirish plot.

Devoted readers may note some strong similarities to Robert Sheckley’s Seventh Victim and derivative tales.

CBC - NightfallNightfall #74 – Assassin Game
By John G. Fisher; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 28 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC
Broadcast: November 5, 1982
Source: Archive.org
In the future, your career will be determined by now many students you eliminate at university. Assassin was just a game at first, then it got real.

Cast:
Saul Rubinek … Joel Unson (a computer science student)
Nicky Guadagni … Wendy Hirsch?
David Ferry … Martin (a political science student)
Ralph McPherson … Alex (Joel’s AI)
Peter Jobin … the computer and the man
Chris Wiggins … university president
Barbara Kyle … Miss and the PA announcer

Posted by Jesse Willis

Bill Moyers: A World Of Ideas – A conversation between Bill Moyers and Isaac Asimov

December 13, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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Bill Moyers A World Of Ideas

Among the many books in my maternal grandmother’s collection was Bill Moyers – A World Of Ideas which is subtitled “Conversations With Thoughtful Men And Women About American Life Today And The Ideas Shaping Our Future.” I’d read out of it, years ago, at her home and commented on it to her. She had lots of books, lots is a bit of an understatement, and when she died, and it came time to sort through everything, I thought this one was a keeper.

Essentially it is a collection of smart interviews that you can dip into to find fascinating transcriptions of a conversations between Moyers and some other thoughtful person.

My favourite conversation in it, so far, is from 1988, with the inspirational Isaac Asimov. Here’s a |PDF| and here’s an |MP3|

It is also available as a three part YouTube video series:

Posted by Jesse Willis

LibriVox: The Variable Man by Philip K. Dick

May 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

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LibriVoxThere’s a new FREE audiobook version of Philip K. Dick’s 1953 novella The Variable Man available from LibriVox and superstar narrator Gregg Margarite!

Here’s the teaser:

“He fixed things—clocks, refrigerators, vidsenders and destinies. But he had no business in the future, where the calculators could not handle him. He was Earth’s only hope—and its sure failure!”

Here are four different covers from various paperbook incarnations of this time travel tale…

The Variable Man by Philip K. Dick - Covers

And here’s the audiobook…

LIBRIVOX - The Variable Man by Philip K. DickThe Variable Man
By Philip K. Dick; Read by Gregg Margarite
3 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 2 Hours 49 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 3, 2010
Predictability has come a long way. The computers of the future can tell you if you’re going to win a war before you fire a shot. Unfortunately they’re predicting perpetual standoff between the Terran and Centaurian Empires. What they need is something unpredictable, what they get is Thomas Cole, a man from the past accidentally dragged forward in time. Will he fit their calculations, or is he the random variable that can break the stalemate? From Space Science Fiction September 1953.

Part 1 |MP3| Part 2 |MP3| Part 3 |MP3|

Podcast feed:
http://librivox.org/rss/4275

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

[Thanks also to Betty M. and Diana Majlinger]

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

March 26, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

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Here’s a review of The Veldt, story #20 in our 7th Anniversary Review Spree!

The Illustrated Man by Ray BradburyThe Veldt
Contained in The Illustrated Man
By Ray Bradbury; Read by Paul Michael Garcia
8 CDs – 9 Hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2009
ISBN: 9781433297199
Themes: / Science Fiction / Automated House / Computers / Children / Simulation /

In a house that cost them “thirty thousand dollars installed”, George and Lydia Hadley and their two children lived happily. Their shoes were tied with automatic shoe-tyers, their bacon was automatically fried, and, most importantly, their children were kept entertained. Life was good in their soundproof Happylife(tm) Home. Of course, things go terribly wrong. In the nursery, the kids seem to be spending a lot of time in Africa. With the lions.

The story was published in 1950, and though nobody’s tying my shoes, here in 2010 I can identify strongly with some of what Bradbury says here. At one point, George gets so upset that he decides to shut the house down:

“Lydia, it’s off, and it stays off. And the whole damn house dies as of here and now. The more I see of the mess we’ve put ourselves in, the more it sickens me. We’ve been contemplating our mechanical, electronic navels for too long. My God, how we need a breath of honest air!”

And he marched about the house turning off the voice clocks, the stoves, the heaters, the shoe shiners, the shoe lacers, the body scrubbers and swabbers and massagers, and every other machine he could put his hand to.

The house was full of dead bodies, it seemed. It felt like a mechanical cemetery. So silent. None of the humming hidden energy of machines waiting to function at the tap of a button.

Every so often I experience the same kind of angst and run around shutting things down. Things don’t end up so well for George, though. Maybe I better just leave it all on… and let the kids play with the lions. moohoowahahaha!

I’ve heard this story many many times, but I don’t know that I’ve actually heard an audiobook version before now. They’ve always been radio dramas, and this story has appeared several times: It was a Dimension X episode (1951), an X Minus One episode (1955), and Episode 11 of Bradbury 13. It was also televised as an episode of The Ray Bradbury Theater in the 1980’s.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Press Enter_ by John Varley

March 25, 2010 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Reviews 

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SFFaudio’s 7th Anniversary Reviewathon continues!

Science Fiction Audiobook - Press Enter_ by John VarleyPress Enter_
By John Varley; Read by Peter Ganim
2 Hours 53 Minutes – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audible Frontiers
Published: 2008
Themes: / Science Fiction / Mystery / Murder / Computers / Hacking /

This novella won the Best Novella Hugo in 1985 and the Best Novella Nebula in 1984. In 1984 I was 16, and my prize possession was a Commodore 64 computer. I recall programming on it, writing stories, and playing games. hmm. Not much has changed since then but the hardware, it looks like.

A story published in 1984 in which computers play a huge role is a history lesson. Floppy disks, modems, BBS’s – made me long for the good ole days. What was science fiction in 1984 now reads like historical fiction with an SF twist.

Victor receives a phone call one day from a computer, which tells him to run next door to his neighbor’s house. It will keep calling until he does it, says the computer. So he does, entering the house of a man he didn’t know well and finding him dead, an apparent suicide. Police and others are called in because this dead neighbor was into a lot of stuff: surveillance of neighbors, hacking into government systems, manipulation and theft of big money, all through his computers and his phones. Peter Ganim narrates the mystery well.

This is the longest story I’ve reviewed so far this month; it clocks in at 2 hours, 53 minutes. I LOVE novellas, and there is so much great science fiction out there at this length. Hollywood, take note! If you are mining for material, check out the science fiction novella.

Audible Frontiers has published many novellas, including more by John Varley (The Persistance of Vision is really excellent) and some by Connie Willis and Allen Steele.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Human Weakness by Karen Traviss

March 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
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The 7th Anniversary Reviewapalooza continues! May contain nuts.

Science Fiction Audiobook - Halo EvolutionsHuman Weakness
By Karen Traviss; Read by Jen Taylor
Contained in Halo: Evolutions
90 Minutes – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Published: 2010
Themes: / Science Fiction / Military SF / Artificial Intelligence / Computers / Aliens /

I have died more deaths per minute in Halo than anyone else I know. I spawn, look around, and thud. Or boom. Or thump thump thump. I spend a LOT of time waiting to spawn. Don’t like to brag, but my rate of death has to be some kind of record.

So I listened to this Halo story by Karen Traviss. “Human Weakness”, it’s called. It’s a good story about an artificially intelligent computer that is left behind when The Flood arrives and the humans run for their lives. The story is about something called “The Gravemind”, a borg-like malevolent entity that assimilates data, and it’s attempt to infiltrate the left-behind AI. No matter how much the Gravemind tries to convince the AI to allow it access, the AI refuses. Interesting! Not too many humans in this story.

I mentioned this to a friend of mine whose Halo death rate is respectable. I told him that the AI’s name was Cortana, and he knew exactly who that was. Then I realized that she’s the girl that talks to me at the beginning of Halo 3. That sent me to the Halopedia, where everything started coming together. I haven’t played much Halo in story mode, obviously, but I’m more interested in doing so than I was. A big storyline!

And oh yeah! The narrator was top-notch. Her name is Jen Taylor.

The description of the Halo: Evolutions anthology:

When humanity expanded beyond the safety of Earth to new stars and horizons, they never dreamed what dangers they would encounter there. When the alien juggernaut known as the Covenant declared holy war upon the fragile human empire, millions of lives were lost—but, millions of heroes rose to the challenge. In such a far-reaching conflict, not many of the stories of these heroes, both human and alien, have a chance to become legend. This collection holds eleven stories that dive into the depths of the vast Halo universe, not only from the perspective of those who fought and died to save humanity, but also those who vowed to wipe humanity out of existence.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

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