The SFFaudio Podcast #430 – READALONG: The High Crusade by Poul Anderson

July 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastDr. Dimension Master Of Spacetime Raising Mullah by S. Ron MarsThe SFFaudio Podcast #422 – Jesse, Scott Danielson, and Paul Weimer talk about The High Crusade by Poul Anderson

Today’s podcast is sponsored by Hotspur Publishing’s Dr. Dimension Master Of Spacetime Raising Mullah. Written by S. Ron Mars and narrated by Fred Wolinsky, this is a comedic Science Fiction audiobook available now on Audible.com

Talked about on today’s show:
A Canticle For Leibowitz, the framing, a thousand years later, the manuscript, make a universe as a playground to play in, feudal Englishman running rampant in interstellar space, appreciations, Eric Flint, David Drake, Greg Bear, rollicking, Astrid Anderson Bear, a rollicking romp of medieval mayhem, fun Catholicism, A Case Of Conscience where the conscience is a little lose, the horrible movie adaptation The High Crusade (1994), it could make a good movie, Monty Python And The Holy Grail, George Pal, no budget, no script, no director, John Rhys Davies, the trailer, a really good trailer, blue skin, Quest by Poul Anderson, this seems to be the Holy Grail, here’s a story where they tried, a little too sloppy, a gaming system, Ares, Poul Anderson wrote a ton of great stuff, paperback reprints, an upbeat ending, grim or ambiguous, a different tone, The Broken Sword, Three Hearts And Three Lions, Philip K. Dick’s Waterspider has Poul Anderson as a character, Call Me Joe by Poul Anderson, Avatar with fewer explosions, following in a line with Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court, our knowledge, awesome mistakes, no defenses, lucky Scott, fun, super-entertaining, history, a healthy respect for factual history, not technically a lie, Babel, an undercurrent of humour from charging knights to launching nukes with trebuchets, historicity, the fall of Rome, barbarians, the Roman Empire, the creation of the dark ages, their own past and their own future, fiefdoms, the church, practicality, stiff armour costumes, almost a complete retelling of what’s going on in Europe, a local chieftain, keep the system going, pastiche, we have to buy so much, rusty axes, pretty hard to buy, a light touch, undeniably well working, L. Sprague de Camp’s Krishna novels and stories, looking for princesses, green skin aliens, an Easter egg, all their conquests, the crusades, the Wersgorix, defeat the horde of Englishmen, Saracens, ripe for a fall, what made Alexander The Great so great, technical definition: a shitshow, sacking Constantinople, attacking the wrong people, loose collectives, a charitable term, mercenary motivations, the sack of Alexandria, they too the wrong turn, the Northern Crusades, the French Crusades, Baltic pagans, holy wars, Christian jihads, radical extremism combined with mercenary avarice, he must speak Latin because he’s a demon, sharp knives and tortures and laughing, it’s all fake, not being horrified, the entire town from Lincolnshire goes to liberate the Holy Land, an enjoyable romp, edible, digestible, enjoyable, nicely, lightly, briefly, reconstructing scenes, reliability, circumstances, third hand, it’s wonderful to be an Englishman, his declensions are atrocious and what he does to irregular verbs can not be mentioned in gentle company, Patricia Kennealy-Morrison, Celts in the stars, Catherine Asaro, Mayans in space, Star Trek, space Romans and space Nazis, the Traveler RPG, Traveler 3000, seeding wolves and humans, plenty of little planets, plucky humans, star empires, elves, wolves in space, building empires, dying in character creation, The High Crusade tactical board game, chits, Avalon Hill, flaws and strengths, tactics, dry ’80s-style war games, actual battles, great cover art, the idea of primitive technology defeating higher technology, Ewoks vs. the Imperial Storm Troopers, Return Of The Jedi, buckskins (Ewok skins), a comic light touch, different kinds of swords, gladius -> longsword -> rapier -> no swords, the heraldry, to learn how to run a spaceship, you don’t even know how to read to learn, ignorance, history, they’re not knowledgeable enough to think they can’t win, hand-to-hand, contrast, thrall army, fort destruction, ionic storm, heresy, playing the heresy card, history, religion, science, space battles, awesome, scenes and jokes, the workings of the physical universe, an inversion, knights with holstered ray guns, laser guns, the English learn quickly, never give up the horses, poor Ansby was left almost deserted, the loading of the ship, a Noah’s Ark story, a good idea, a lot to swallow, so much sugar, worldly goods, what happened to this village?, everybody’s gone, all the cupboards are bare, there’s a story there, “almost deserted”, I’m not getting on this thing!, other races, clever but nuts, the opening framing, a document vs. a novel, The Green Meadow by H.P. Lovecraft and Winifred Virginia Jackson, the most preposterous story ever, alien summer night, socio-technician, modern languages, creatures, thunder and blow-up, hard to believe, no rest for the wicked, impressively ancient, uncials on vellum, a prosaic typescript, home was a long way off, a mystery, pretty cute, they did well, still there, an English Empire stretching down the spiral arm, 2300 A.D., has the Holy Land yet been liberated?, a funny funny book, this book can’t really age, the alien technology of the ship feels very 1950s, their navigator is called an “astrologer”, The Enduring Chill by Flannery O’Connor, Stephen Colbert, a comedian should narrated this novel, John Cleese, the Book For The Blind, massive archives, there has never been a commercial audiobook release of The High Crusade, The Broken Sword, collections, Brain Wave, Tau Zero, Three Hearts And Three Lions, dealing with elves and trolls, Icelandic and Scandinavian myths, Lest Darkness Fall by L. Sprague de Camp, The Man Who Came Early, dark ages Iceland, Eifelheim by Michael Flynn, split time-lines, everything’s short, 180 pages, a big impressive story inside a few number of pages, packing a bigger punch, Harvest Of Stars, these science fiction writers in the 1960s and 1970s were doing idea exploration, The Broken Sword is a classic, Paul will wind up crying again, catharsis, faking us out, “these creatures”, the Owain treachery, the same thing in Quest, double jointed knees, more faithful than everybody else, a planet named Lancaster, there was hardly a peasant who hadn’t been knighted, Alexander’s generals, regional governors founding dynasties, hay stuck in his hair, very strange very funny, the promise of all series novels always offer, all the adventures happen between the page turns, Sir Roger’s cunning, the Wersgorix had no special affection for their birthplace, King John (and the Magna Carta), the rule of law vs. the rule of the word, “don’t you wish you had a plan?”, siege-craft, “when I had been picked up and dusted off”, no simpletons, to reap so rich a harvest, winning with cunning, courage and brute strength, a little pope, the younger people are not careful, Parvus means “little”, my nickname when I was a kid, a good catch, can we trust this document?, of course we have to trust it 100% because it’s cuter that way, why would it lose to anything?, another religious novel, a different kind of humour completely, a very dry humour, what else was nominated?, Rogue Moon by Algis Burdrys, Deathworld by Harry Harrison, Venus Plus X by Theodore Sturgeon, The Longest Voyage, the Tor Double, To Marry Medusa, Far-Seer by Robert J. Sawyer, mini-tyrannosaurs rex, Galileo, a telescope, his “planet”, Poul Anderson’s inspiration, making marvelous wonders, a great story to build on.

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson - illustration by H. R. Van Dongen

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson - illustration by H. R. Van Dongen

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson - illustration by H. R. Van Dongen

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson - illustration by H. R. Van Dongen

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson - illustration by H. R. Van Dongen

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson - illustration by H. R. Van Dongen

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson - illustration by H. R. Van Dongen

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson - illustration by H. R. Van Dongen

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson - illustration by H. R. Van Dongen

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson - illustration by H. R. Van Dongen

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson - illustration by H. R. Van Dongen

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson - illustration by H. R. Van Dongen

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson - illustration by H. R. Van Dongen

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson - illustration by H. R. Van Dongen

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson - illustration by H. R. Van Dongen

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson - illustration by H. R. Van Dongen

The High Crusade - illustration by Larry Elmore

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of By Heresies Distressed by David Weber

September 1, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audiobooks - By Heresies Distressed by David WeberBy Heresies Distressed
By David Weber; Read by Jason Culp
Approx. 25 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Published: 2009
ISBN: 9781427206794 (CD)
Themes: / Science Fiction / Empires / Religion / War /

The Empire of Charis has been founded out of the marriage between King Cayleb of Charis and Queen Sharleyan of Chisholm, and further expanded by the annexation of Charis’ enemy Emerald. Now Cayleb and Merlin go on the offensive. Sharleyan stays behind to construct the new government out of the former Kingdoms, while Cayleb leads their Navy and tens of thousands of Charisian Marines against the League of Corisande and Prince Hektor. Hektor was the willing puppet of the Church of God Awaiting when he led an armada from several of Safehold’s nations against Charis. That armada was defeated with the aid of the technologies introduced by Merlin, but not before Cayleb’s father, King Haarahld, was killed.

Retribution is also dealt against the Kingdom of Delferahk, greatly offending the Church in the process when the priests responsible for the massacre are called to account. Merlin’s SNARCs, autonomous flying, invisible spy cameras, continue to provide a massive tactical advantage and help to solidify Cayleb’s reputation as a master tactician especially as the battle moves onto land. Some of the advances hinted at in the previous books are seen in action and their effects, amounting to almost two centuries of advancement in our history, are somewhat predictable. Unfortunately, the SNARCs can’t be everywhere, and Merlin and his A.I., Owl, can’t review everything that they record. The Church loyalists manage to slip past Merlin’s security, and target Empress Sharleyan in an attempt to break the new Empire.

Being the third book in the series, Weber brings the anticipated final conflict with Mother Church several steps closer. There is less focus on the new technologies being introduced in this book than in those that proceed it. The tactics and politics assume much more the focus. The land battles are clearly drawn, and the narrator, Jason Culp, keeps the back and forth between the combatants clear.

There are a noticeable number of lengthy monologues, in some cases in the middle of what was a normal conversation. They could have been more concise, however Jason delivers them well. He brings all of the many characters to life with ease, from the lowest soldier in the middle of a battle to the nobility and the priesthood.

Merlin is a magical character to the inhabitants of Safehold, but of Arthur C. Clarke’s variety: sufficiently advanced technology. Although that technology plays an important part in the events, it doesn’t really intrude. Merlin’s visions are provided by his SNARCs and the explanation of, what amounts to a mobile phone, in one scene is as intrusive as it gets. Weber’s Safehold series should appeal to fans of alternate history as well as fantasy and Science Fiction.

Posted by Paul [W] Campbell

Review of Empire of the East by Fred Saberhagen

September 22, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

Science Fiction Audiobooks - Empire of the East by Fred SaberhagenEmpire of the East
by Fred Saberhagen, read by Raymond Todd
15 CD’s – 18.5 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
Published: 2005
ISBN: 0786178833
Themes: / Fantasy / Magic / Technology / Demons / Empires / Post-Apocalypse

Have you ever wondered what one modern piece of weaponry might have meant for a given side in a war in past centuries? In the world Fred Saberhagen creates in Empire of the East, it is the future rather than the past where such scenarios are explored. In this distant future magic is real, understood, and trusted, while technology from the “old world” (i.e., our time) exists in the form of mistrusted relics.

You can’t listen to this story long without comparing it to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and it compares favorably. It’s a compilation (I believe with some revision) of three earlier books written by Saberhagen. The sheer breadth of the three-part story is impressive, sweeping you through a vast world where an oppressive Eastern empire is resisted by free men of the West. The main character Rolf resembles Frodo (even beyond the near-anagramatic match of names) and another reminds the reader of Aragorn.

But Saberhagen is no poor man’s Tolkien. He manages the micro- and macro-details with great skill. There are no Tom Bombadils dancing around, hinting of early ideas left in but not fully integrated. No disrespect for Lord of the Rings intended, I’m just saying that Empire of the East merits praise in its own right.

Saberhagen’s characters were believable and easy to care about. Lord Chup is my favorite character. Is he a good bad guy? A bad good guy? And making up for in evilness what they lack in nuance, the main antagonists are gripping. Lord Ekuman is evil, but he is easily outdone in the second book by Som the Dead (yes, he is as attractive as he sounds). Then, in the third book you realize Som is simply middle management. His boss (his mother named him Ominor, perhaps expecting the worst) likes to relax to the sounds of impalement.

The breadth of the milieu is matched by lush detail. I couldn’t help thinking of what a movie version of this would be like. Saberhagen describes situations and interactions with such precision that images came to mind as easily as if I’d watched it on a screen. The story aside, it was just fun listening to Saberhagen’s writing. He captures subtleties in the action, giving you the feeling like you know exactly what it would have been like to be there. Here is a random example of his writing:

As a man dragged to the edge of a precipice will throw away all his treasures and his weapons, to grab with every finger for some saving hold, so did the demon emperor now abandon all the threads of Eastern wizardry.

If you read fantasy, you often just accept that there happens to be magic in the world, and Saberhagen does a very good job explaining the magic of his world. The magic isn’t just part of the scenery, though. In a pleasant surprise at the end, just how the world came to have magic is explained and tied into the climax. There isn’t much of a denouement, perhaps the greatest contrast between Empire of the East and Lord of the Rings.

Even if a story is great, however, it does not necessarily translate to greatness when presented in other mediums. In this case, the audio production is equal to the story. Blackstone Audiobooks did a perfect job producing the Raymond Todd narration for Empire of the East. While a reader that does not distract from a story is desirable, Todd’s voice talent goes beyond and enhances it.

Some readers have interesting voices, but they soon become distracting, like a new shirt you don, but are soon irritated by when it doesn’t quite fit and rubs irritatingly against your skin. Raymond Todd’s voice, in contrast, is like a comfortable sweater that gives familiar reassurance. He uses variations of some kind of Gaelic or Scandinavian accent with the men of the West and did a great job with it.

So thank Blackstone Audiobooks for bringing us such a brilliant novel in a very impressive production. I’ll be keeping my eye out for other stories read by Raymond Todd.

If you don’t want to carry around a case with 15 CDs, you can get two MP3 CDs for just under fifty bucks, or do a digital download from their site for only $9.95 (if it’s your first time). I think anyone who appreciates his work will be glad this part of his legacy is preserved in this quality production.

Posted by Mike

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