Review of More Than Honor by David Weber, et al

July 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

More than HonorMore Than Honor (Worlds of Honor #1)
By David Weber, David Drake, S. M. Stirling; Read By Victor Bevine, L. J. Ganser, Khristine Hvam
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: 21 May 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4805-2813-0
[UNABRIDGED] – 9 discs; 11 hours

Themes: / telepathic tree cats / short stories / military sci-fi / Honor Harrington /

Publisher summary:

New York Times bestselling author David Weber invites David Drake and S.M. Stirling, two of today’s top writers of military science fiction, to join him in an exploration of Honor Harrington’s universe.

 More Than Honor consists of the following four parts.

  1. A Beautiful Friendship by David Weber, narrated by Khristine Hvam.
  2. A Grand Tour by David Drake, narrated by Victor Bevine.
  3. A Whiff of Grapeshot by S.M. Stirling, narrated by Khristine Hvam.
  4. The Universe of Honor Harrington by David Weber, narrated by L. J. Ganser.

This collection starts and ends strong, but unflatteringly sags in the middle.  The story “A Beautiful Friendship” is a short work introducing Stephanie Harrington and the first bonding between humans and treecats.  It’s a powerful piece and Khristine Hvam narrates it with skill and style.  David Weber later lengthened this short story into a novel, which now is on my to-read list.  This collection is worth picking up if for no other reason than to simply read this first story.  I know for those of you who aren’t familiar with Honor Harrington and treecats, the idea of a six-legged cat might seem weird, it’s not, well not really.  Trust me on this, just go with it and all shall become groovy.

The following two works in this collection were in my opinion, unneeded baggage that added little and entertained less.  “A Grand Tour” by David Drake, narrated by Victor Bevine, tells the story of a largely forgettable cast of characters doing stuff that really doesn’t matter to anyone outside of the narrative.  Going from “A Beautiful Friendship” to this was like going from steaming jets of hot water shooting from the showerhead to being sprayed down in county lockup with a fire hose gushing ice water.  Victor Bevine as narrator gives a solid effort though at times, I felt he was overdoing it and this contributed to my overall sense of “Mehh” for this piece.  “A Whiff of Grapeshot” by S.M. Stirling, narrated by Khristine Hvam, wasn’t as bad as “A Grand Tour” but still, not great.  Stirling does tie this into the Honor Universe and Khristine Hvam gives another outstanding performance as reader.  Others may find this short story enjoyable and if you are one of these individuals, I can understand why you may like this.  I however found it lacking any sense of urgency and as a result, I felt unengaged for the duration of this short work.

This collection concludes with an appendix providing a wealth of historical reference to the Honor Universe.  For those of you who are into this series, I highly recommend reading this.  L. J. Ganser narrates this final section, “The Universe of Honor Harrington” by David Weber.  And for what it’s worth, Ganser does a great job of reading mostly historical exposition.  I found some of this material to be fascinating while some of it was dry and skim-worthy but still, good stuff to read through.

In the end, I’d say it’s an okay expansion pack but falls short of what it promises.  Sadly, this collection doesn’t even come close to scratching the military SF itch like Weber has done in the past with his earlier Honor Harrington books.  I was left wanting more treecats and more space battles.

Posted by Casey Hampton.

The SFFaudio Podcast #123

August 29, 2011 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #123 – Scott, Jesse, Tamahome, Matthew Sanborn Smith (Hairy Mango), and Jenny (Reading Envy) talk about audiobooks, recent arrivals and new releases.

Talked about on today’s show:
Scott’s recent arrivals, The Magician King by Lev Grossman, a gritty Harry Potter?, Ghost Story by Jim Butcher has a new narrator John Glover (not Crispin Glover), Southern Gods by John Hornor Jacobs, the Crossroads film, We’re Alive — A Story Of Survival zombie audiodrama, originally a podcast, The Walking Dead comic, Terry Goodkind’s The Omen Machine, long sentences on the cover, Mango version?, The Keeper Of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen, The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo, the scandanavian thriller genre, Henning Mankell, Jo Nesbø, we make an exception for noir, straight science fiction, Poul Anderson’s Genesis, singularity?, the cover, several Joe Ledger stories (like Patient Zero) by Jonathan Maberry, it’s like evil corporations and terrorism, he adapted The Wolfman (2010) movie, Ghost Road Blues, something for October, Blackstone interview with Maberry and Gardner, two by Abaton Radio Theater, Cat Wife, Baby, radio scripter Arch Oboler, Tam could use a radiodrama, L. Ron Hubbard’s Greed, yellow peril, dramatized kind of like Graphicaudio, Dianetics, Kevin Hearne’s Hexed, they begin with ‘H’, Witchy Woman (song), an adult The Lightning Thief, Lost Voices by Sarah Porter, mermaids, where’s the older mermaids?, sirens, werewolves, Out Of The Waters by David Drake is not military science fiction, the periodic table series, Dead End In Norvelt by Jack Gantos, read by the author, it’s YA, (41:38) Matt tells us about Grant Morrison’s Supergods, it’s a autobiography/comic book history, All-Star Superman comic, narrator John Lee swears well, Grant experimented with everything, Voltaire, does the audio need pictures?, We3, artist Frank Quitely, New X-Men, Dan DiDio on the DC Comics relaunch, Jenny doesn’t read comics (but she reads graphic novels), superheroes don’t stay dead, Criminal comic, the George R.R. Martin effect, The Boys comic satirizes superheroes, (52:18) Jenny is listening to James Joyce’s Ulysses (wow), The Testament Of Jesse Lamb by Jane Rogers, kind of a prequel to Children Of Men, not on audio yet, the Man Booker prize longlist, Ulysses radiodrama, listening for 24 hours in a row, Beyond This Horizon by Robert Heinlein (our next readalong), The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi exclusively on Audible, (one of narrator Scott Brick’s favorites) glossary of terms in The Quantum Thief, made-up terms, The Dervish House by Ian McDonald, fictional thief character Arsène Lupin (oh yeah, Lupin III is an anime), differentiating the voices of characters, how to win a Hugo, Blackstone new releases, The Holloween Tree by Ray Bradbury, animated movie version, Bronson Pinchot is the narrator, Balky, Beverly Hills Cop, Robert Heinlein’s The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag, reddish substance, Hardwired by Walter Jon Williams, it’s the old legit cyberpunk, Nancy Kress’s Beggars In Spain, Ghost In The Wires (non-fiction) by super hacker Kevin Mitnick, Mitnick on Triangulation, (1:09:00) Audible new releases,The Moon Maze Game: A Dream Park Novel by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, it’s about the 80’s, Return To 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea by Barlow and Skidmore, Jules Verne, John Brunner’s Stand On Zanzibar, it’s new-wave-y, paranormal romance filter, Downward To Earth by Robert Silverberg, sounds like John Scalzi’s Fuzzy Nation, T. C. McCarthy’s Germline, McCarthy’s Big Idea on Scalzi, The Mandel Files by Peter F. Hamilton (when’s the audiobook coming?), Noir by Richard Matheson, the upcoming film Real Steel, fighting robots, The Twilight Zone, it’s heart wrenching like the last Harry Potter movie, Wheat Belly (diet book), Jenny’s gluten-free brownies, self-help audiobooks, Eckhart Tolle books, the word “healthy”.


Posted by Tamahome

The SFFaudio Podcast #107

May 9, 2011 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Audio Drama, Aural Noir, Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #107 – Scott, and Jesse talk about new audiobooks, recent arrivals, new releases, the theatre and and comics too!

Talked about on today’s show:
Little Women, Louisa May Alcott, Pride And Prejudice, Charlie’s Aunt, 1776, John Hancock, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, David McCullough, Penguin Audio, Across The Universe by Beth Revis, generation ship, murder, “earth is nowhere new the final frontier”?, Hamlet, A Discovery Of Witches by Deborah Harkness, “he loves yoga and he’s a vampire?”, history, wine, the multiple meanings of discovery, Christopher Columbus DID (in a sense) discover North America, uncover vs. discovery, WWW: Wake by Robert J. Sawyer |READ OUR REVIEW|, “mining the same ideas” in a trilogy, Seth Wilson, Spirit Blade a christian audio drama, Pilgrim’s Progress |READ OUR REVIEW|, comicbookjesus.com’s review, An Accidental Adventure: We Are Not Eaten By Yaks by C. Alexander London, Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz, GoodReads.com, Ranger’s Apprentice: Book 10 – The Emperor Of Nihon-Ja by John Flanagan, the Ranger’s Apprentice Wiki, The Lord Of The Rings, Blackstone Audio, Sweep: The Coven by Cate Tiernan, Dreamhouse Kings: Book 6 – Frenzy by Robert Liparulo, Aural Noir, Silent Mercy by Linda Fairstein, the Alex Cooper series, series Crime/Mystery vs. series Fantasy/Science Fiction, Sue Grafton, Star Trek, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Enterprise, SFSignal.com’s Which SciFi Series Should You Watch on NetFlix? This Handy Flowchart Will Help You Decide!, Night Vision by Randy Wayne White, the extremely negative reviews on Amazon.com, When The Thrill Is Gone by Walter Mosley, Blue Light, Futureland, John DeNardo’s review of Blue Light, Bell Air Dead by Stuart Woods, Strategic Moves by Stuart Woods, “Stuart Woods is a writing machine”, Richard Ferrone, Tamahome got bogged down in the Martian sand (of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars), Buried Prey by John Sanford, kidnapping, “this dude has other dudes as well”, the Virgil Flowers series, Bad Blood, the next readalong is 361 by Donald E. Westlake, Port Mortuary by Patricia Cornwell, the Kay Scarpetta series, forensic detection, Kathy Reichs, Bones, new releases, Hachette Audio, Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks, space opera, Coruscant, extremely detailed strange stuff, Audible.com, Recorded Books, Glasshouse by Charles Stross, Hard Magic: Book I of the Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia, Audible Frontiers, Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia, Second Variety and Other Stories by Philip K. Dick, William Coon, The Most Dangerous Game, The Variable Man by Philip K. Dick, Buffalito Destiny, David Drake’s Hammer’s Slammers series, military SF, The Collected Stories Of Arthur C. Clarke Vol. 5, Bronson Pinchot, The Alchemy of Desire by Crista McHugh, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (translated into Danish), The Stress Of Her Regard by Tim Powers, The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson, Orion And The King by Ben Bova, The Automatic Detective by A. Lee Martinez, robot detective vs. femme fatale, “satisfying conclusion, clever, twisty, fast” = good, Monster: A Novel, Divine Misfortune, The Stainless Steel Rat Book 8, Too Many Curses, FREE COMIC BOOK DAY, Criminal: Bad Night by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 2 by Alan Moore, Listening For The League’s Gentlemen, Mars, aliens, H.G.Wells, The War Of The Worlds, Allan Quatermain, Bongo Comics, The Simpsons, Baltimore, Mike Mignola, Hellboy, Fafhrd And The Gray Mouser, Civil War Adventure, Locke & Key, Blair Butler, Joe Hill, TV version of Locke & Key, DMZ, Brian Wood, Fables, Y: The Last Man, The Boys: Highland Laddie, Garth Ennis, 361 by Donald E. Westlake, Hard Case Crime, Charles Ardai, Memory by Donald E. Westlake, The Comedy Is Finished by Donald E. Westlake, The King Of Comedy, Getting Off by Lawrence Block, James M. Cain, David Morrell, Stephen King, John D. MacDonald.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Baen Audiobooks FREE

September 21, 2007 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

Online Audio

Baen BooksBaen Books has FREE audiobooks! I knew that several of Baen’s hardcover first editions over the last few years had been coming with BONUS CD-ROMS full of eBooks. And I thought that was pretty cool, and clever too, but it was a big surprise to me to learn that they have often also included MP3 audiobook readings (complete novels and short stories). Even cooler, one thoughtful collector has archived the CDs on his/her website! And here are links to each…

Novels:

Hell's Faire by John RingoHell’s Faire
By John Ringo; Read by ????
21 MP3 Files – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Baen
Published: 2003
With the defenses of the Southern Appalachians sundered, the only thing standing between the ravening Posleen hordes and the soft interior of the Cumberland Plateau are the veterans of the 555th Mobile Infantry. Dropped into Rabun Pass, with a couple of million Posleen behind them and fourteen million to the front, the only question is which will run out first: power, bullets or bodies. But they have a hole card: far to the north the shattered SheVa Nine, nicknamed “Bun-Bun,” is undergoing a facelift. Rising from its smoking ashes is a new weapon of war, armed with the most advanced weaponry Terra has ever produced, capable of facing both the Posleen hordes and their redoubtable space-cruisers. Capable of dealing out Hell as only SheVa Nine can. But when push comes to vaporization, if Mike O’Neal and the other members of the 555th are going to survive, it will come down to how much Posleen butt Bun-Bun can kick. Prepare to eat antimatter, Posleen-boy.

The Far Side Of The Stars by David DrakeThe Far Side Of The Stars
By David Drake; Read by ????
35 MP3 Files – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Baen
Published: 2003
While the Republic of Cinnabar is at peace with the Alliance, warriors like Lt. Daniel Leary and Signals Officer Adele Mundy must find other work—like escorting a pair of wealthy nobles on an expedition to the back of beyond! The Princess Cecile, the corvette in which they carved their reputations in letters of fire, has been sold as a private yacht, but she still has her guns, her missiles, and her veteran crew. Daniel and Adele will need all of those things as they face winged dragons, an Alliance auxiliary cruiser, jealous lovers, and a mysterious oracle which really does foresee the future. That won’t be enough, though, when they penetrate a secret Alliance base and find a hostile fleet ready for a war that will sweep Cinnabar out of a strategically crucial arm of the galaxy. Preventing that will involve skill, courage, and more luck than a sane man could even pray for; and it will require a space battle on a scale that a tiny corvette like the Princess Cecile has no business being involved in. But she’ll be in the middle of it anyway, because Daniel, Adele, and their Cinnabar crew would never turn their backs on a fight!

There Will Be Dragons by John RingoThere Will Be Dragons
By John Ringo; Read by ????
45 MP3 Files – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Baen
Published: 2003
n the future there is no want, no war, no disease nor ill-timed death. The world is a paradise-and then, in a moment, it ends. The council that controls the Net falls out and goes to war. Everywhere people who have never known a moment of want or pain are left wondering how to survive. But scattered across the face of the earth are communities which have returned to the natural life of soil and small farm. In the village of Raven’s Mill, Edmund Talbot, master smith and unassuming historian, finds that all the problems of the world are falling in his lap. Refugees are flooding in, bandits are roaming the woods, and his former lover and his only daughter struggle through the Fallen landscape. Enemies, new and old, gather like jackals around a wounded lion. But what the jackals do not know is that while old he may be, this lion is far from death. And hidden in the past is a mystery that has waited until this time to be revealed.

Short Stories:

A Ship Named Francis by John Ringo And Victor MitchellA Ship Named Francis
By John Ringo and Victor Mitchell; Read by ????
1 |MP3| – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Baen
Published: 2003
Sean Tyler, a corpsman in the Royal Manticoran Navy, thought that a stint as a loaner in the explosively-growing Grayson Navy would boost his career. So, when he heard there was a slot vacant on board the cruiser Francis Mueller, he volunteered. Unfortunately for Corpsman Tyler, no one told him that almost everybody on board the Francis — from the clueless captain to the psychotic XO and the panicky chaplain — had been sent there because no one else in the entire Grayson Navy wants them.

Let’s Go to Prague
By John Ringo; Read by ????
1 |MP3| – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Baen
Published:
A pair of Manticoran Marines discover that a holiday can be even more fun if it involves spoiling StateSec’s day.

Review of The Greatest Horror Stories of the 20th Century

May 19, 2005 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

Horror Audiobooks - The Greatest Horror StoriesThe Greatest Horror Stories Of The 20th Century
Edited by Martin Greenberg; Read by Various Readers
4 Cassettes – Approx. 6 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Dove Audio
Published: 1998
ISBN: 0787117234
Themes: / Horror / Fantasy / Science Fiction / Urban Fantasy / Magic / Curses / Telepathy / Childhood / Demons /

“Featuring some of the masters of the genre, past and present, The Greatest Horror Stories Of The 20th Century are as remarkable for their literary value as for their scream factor. Whether you are a passionate horror lover or a devotee in the making, you will find much to entertain. Listen for screams as ancient and unspeakable evil meets the modern psyche.”

Judicious use of musical cues are the only enhancement to these horror stories. Twelve horrific short stories, to be sure, but are they truly the greatest of the 20th century? Read on, MacDuff….

“The Graveyard Rats” by Henry Kuttner
Read by Michael Gross
A creepy Lovecraftian tale that almost could have been written by H.P. Lovecraft himself. It was first published in Weird Tales’ March 1936 issue. A worthy addition to the list of The Greatest Horror Stories Of The 20th Century list and Michael Gross does a good job with it. And by the way, the R.O.U.S.’s probably don’t really exist.

“Calling Card” by Ramsey Campbell
Read by Juliet Mills
First published in 1982, Ramsey Campbell’s entry in this anthology is more confusing than scary. Juliet Mills is fine but she couldn’t help unravel what we’re supposed to be afraid of. Something about a nice old lady and her mailman delivering a 60-year-old Christmas card?

“Something Had To Be Done” by David Drake
Read by John Aprea
First published in Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine’s February 1975 issue, this is an excellent Vietnam War era is a freakshow of the ‘coming home in a bodybag story’. It combines the friendly fire and frag stories of that war with the accelerating fear of the supernatural – the tension builds until the closing moment – very similar in tone and quality to Robert R. McCammon’s Nightcrawlers. Reader John Aprea does good work with good material!

“The Viaduct” by Brian Lumley
Read by Roger Rees
“The Viaduct” is a Stephen King-ish tale without the supernatural element – two boys make an enemy of another and come to a sticky end. This is the longest tale in the collection, overly long in my estimation. I was amazed how little content this story has, especially for its length, none of the characters are sympathetic and by the end I was almost rooting for them all to be killed- just as long as it was done soon. Ineffectual because of its length and exploitative and I don’t mean that as an insult, it plays, if it plays at all, on fear without telling us anything about ourselves or anything else. On the other hand Roger Rees’ reading was just fine. “The Viaduct” is in my opinion not up to the standards of some of the stories in this collection.

“Smoke Ghost” by Fritz Leiber
Read by Beverly Garland
An early Fritz Leiber yarn, “Smoke Ghost” posits what a ghost from an urban industrial society would be like, as opposed rattling chains, old bed sheets and creaky haunted houses of the pre-industrial age. Frighteningly well written and very well read. First published in Unknown Magazine’s October 1941 issue.

“Passengers” by Robert Silverberg
Read by William Atherton
William Atherton did a very nice reading of this Hugo Award nominated and Nebula winning short story (1969). “Passengers” is more SF than horror but it is 100% worthy of inclusion. It is about the uninvited guests who wouldn’t leave. These evil aliens have invaded the Earth telepathically and at unpredictable times, seize control of a human mind and force a person to do… things(!). Society has adjusted, but not every individual person will go along with all the conventions humanity has adopted to deal with the “Passengers”. Silverberg’s story examines a relatively small SF theme, stories involving involuntary control of one’s body… think the character of Molly in Neuromancer or the Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth’s short story Sitting Around the Pool, Soaking Up Some Rays or Robert A. Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters – it is a horror story because it speaks to such a violation of one’s body. Also interesting is the counterfactual raised by the premise – illustrating how difficult it is to determine exactly where the boundary line between free-will and determinism lies.

“Sticks” by Karl Edward Wagner
Read by Patrick MacNee
Set in 1942, “Sticks” is a World Fantasy Award nominated story (1974) that is decidedly Lovecraftian in content and execution. Think Blair Witch Project meets pulp magazine illustrations and you’ll get the idea. Narrator Patrick MacNee does fine work with it too. With all this inspired by Lovecraft storytelling I only wish they’d included some of H.P.’s original prose, but in lieu of that “Sticks” is a good substitute.

“Yours Truly, Jack The Ripper” by Robert Bloch
Read by Robert Forster
First published in Weird Tales’ July 1943 issue “Yours Truly, Jack The Ripper” is actually a better story than it reads now. What seems a mite cliched today was quite fresh in 1943 and this tale was one of the earliest works of fiction to use ‘the ripper redjack’ – something that is relatively common today. Some narrators have a voice that grabs you and won’t let go, Robert Forster is one of them, his range is good, he does a great English accent on this one too – but its his cadence and his gravelly voice that pull me into his orbit every time. Well read and a good yarn.

“The Small Assassin” by Ray Bradbury
Read by Alyssa Bresnahan
Alyssa Bresnahan, professional full time narrator and AudioFile Magazine Golden Voice, does a very good reading of Bradbury’s short story. “The Small Assassin” is about a young couple and their first child; everything would be okay if only the newborn would only accept the world outside the womb. Horror as parenthood – who’d of thunk it? Newly minted parents probably. This tale was previously recorded by Ray Bradbury himself by pioneering audiobooks publisher Caedmon.

“The Words Of Guru” by C.M. Kornbluth
Read by Susan Anspach
Originally published under Kornbluth’s “Kenneth Falconer” pseudonym, in Stirring Science Stories’ June 1941 issue. Well regarded despite its pulpy exposition, “The Words Of Guru” is a genre-crosser full of cosmic demonism and full-tilt weirdness that comes to a thundering crash just minutes after it starts.

“Casting The Runes” by M.R. James
Read by David Warner
I was quite lost listening to this one. I couldn’t tell who was speaking much of the time, this has to do with the fact that many of the characters aren’t given names and the fact that the way this tale was written it would flow far easier on the printed page than it does aurally. In the paper version some names are blanked out (as if censored), David Warner does his best to fill in these gaps which are unreproducable in audio, but ultimately his efforts are unsuccessful. Magic and curses. First published in 1911!

“Coin Of The Realm” by Charles L. Grant
Read by Louise Sorel
Reminiscent in theme of Neil Gaiman’s style of urban fantasy, “Coin Of The Realm” is an interesting tale of the employees of a toll booth on a lonely highway who occasionally collect some very odd coins from the drivers on their road. First published in a 1981 Arkham House collection entitled Tales from the Nightside.

Posted by Jesse Willis