CBC: Nightfall: Assassin Game by John G. Fisher

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

SFFaudio Online Audio

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

Review of Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold

May 16, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

Science Fiction Audiobooks - Falling Free by Lois McMaster BujoldFalling Free
By Lois McMaster Bujold; Read by Michael Hanson and Carol Cowan
7 Cassettes – 9 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: The Reader’s Chair
Published: 1996
ISBN: 0962401099
Themes: / Science Fiction / Genetic Engineering / Space Travel / Space Stations / Slavery / Corporations /

When I heard about The Reader’s Chair going out of business, I couldn’t help but to revisit this book. I first started writing about audiobooks back in 2001, and one of the first columns I wrote for SFSite was about The Reader’s Chair. In that column, I said:

The audio versions are first-rate. Hanson and Cowan read the books with enthusiasm, providing different characters with different inflections. Great care was taken to make these novels a listening pleasure.

Upon listening to this Nebula-winning novel, and after hearing I have no clue how many audiobooks since, I can still say that the Reader’s Chair titles are amongst the finest out there. Michael Hanson has a deep sonorous voice that demands attention, and Carol Cowan is a warm yet feisty counterbalance.

Falling Free is a novel that fits into Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series, but the events occur 200 years before the birth of the famous Miles Vorkosigan. The story involves a corporation that genetically engineers a new race of humans (called Quaddies) that are uniquely adapted for work in zero-gravity. Enter Leo Graf, an engineer hired to teach zero-g welding techniques to this new race of slave labor. When he sees how the Quaddies are treated, he becomes very uneasy. Think you know where this is heading? Bujold pulls it off brilliantly.

This one is now officially out of print, but well worth finding. The Reader’s Chair productions are top notch, from the high quality production value to the sturdy and fine-looking packaging. I’m very sorry to see them go.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of The Precipice by Ben Bova

May 6, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

Science Fiction Audiobooks - The Precipice by Ben BovaThe Precipice
By Ben Bova; Read by Scott Brick, Amanda Karr, and Cast
10 CD’s – 12 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audio Renaissance
Published: 2005
ISBN: 1593974906
Themes: / Science Fiction / Asteroids / Environment / Nanotechnology / Space Travel / Moon / Corporations /

The Precipice is first book in Ben Bova’s Asteroid War series, which itself is part of the larger group of novels called The Grand Tour. All of the Grand Tour novels appear on audio, the earliest ones abridged, and the later ones unabridged. Of all the Bova novels I’ve heard on audio (Mars, Return to Mars, and Venus), this is the best, possibly because it’s the first unabridged one I’ve heard, more likely because the novel was fine, traditional science fiction peopled with complex characters. The plot was interesting, and the details more so. I really enjoyed this book.

The driving force of the novel is the adversarial relationship between Dan Randolph and Martin Humphries, who are both extremely successful corporate CEO’s. The world is in environmental disarray because the “Greenhouse Cliff” has been reached – the point at which environmental change becomes rapid and unstoppable. The reaction to this by Randolph is to find a way to help. Humphries’ reaction is to find profit opportunities. They both look toward the asteroid belt, whose mineral wealth Randolph sees as mankind’s savior, and Humphries sees as a giant dollar sign. They both struggle for the upper hand as they prepare mankind’s first trip to the asteroid belt.

The novel has another character well worth mentioning. Her name is Pancho Lane, and the first time we meet her in the novel, she is on a space station conning five fellow workers out of a month’s salary. She’s a smart-mouthed, independent, strong female astronaut that plays a huge role in the plot, and is one of those characters that you miss when a novel is done.

The cover of the audiobook lists the readers as “Scott Brick, Amanda Karr, and cast”. Brick and Karr are very strong readers, and have the largest parts in the book. Amanda Karr read the portions of the novel from Pancho Lane’s point of view, and gave the character just the right amount of attitude.

The other readers also performed well. I recall in an earlier post on this site, I mentioned that I wasn’t too fond of multiple-reader audiobooks, and that I preferred single narrators. I did mention Ender’s Game as an exception, which was produced by Stefan Rudnicki, as this one was. Since then, I’ve heard enough of these multiple-reader audiobooks (all produced by Rudnicki) to realize that if an audiobook is edited properly and you have capable performers all around, then the multiple-narrator technique employed here is preferable to single-narrator audiobooks for the simple fact that I immediately know whose POV the story is coming from at any time, which makes listening a more immersive experience. The voices drew me in faster as I picked up the book after putting it down between listens, as if the characters themselves were doing the reading.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson