The SFFaudio Podcast #045

December 21, 2009 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Audio Drama, New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #045 – Jesse and Scott are joined by the ghost of Xmas future as they talk about audiobooks, video games, audio drama and lots more. Jesse even reveals an earth shattering bit of trivia about Vincent Price (you’ll never guess it) and what he thinks is clearly “the greatest joke ever.”

Talked about on today’s show:
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Drood by Dan Simmons, The Terror, James Powell, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, The Black Whatever by James Powell, Richard Stark, NPR, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore (as done in the style of Earnest Hemingway), The Hemingway Hoax by Joe Haldeman |READ OUR REVIEW|, Joe Haldeman to be named a Grand Master of Science Fiction, The Best Cigarette by Billy Collins, iTunes U, The Hilarious House Of Frightenstein, Vincent Price, Paul K. Willis (Jesse’s uncle), Rumors And Boarders, Vancouver is the American Science Fiction TV mecca, Arctic exploration, the Northwest Passage, The Illustrated History Of British Columbia by Terry Reksten, Sir Francis Drake‘s secret mission, Queen Elizabeth I, Juan de Fuca, Captain James Cook, Captain George Vancouver, Patrick O’Brian meets Edgar Allan Poe and J.M.W. Turner, Simon Vance, recent arrivals, audio drama, The H.P. Lovecraft Radio Hour Vol. 1, LovecraftRadio.com, The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, Dagon, Blackstone Audio, Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold, Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold |READ OUR REVIEW|, The Reader’s Chair, Audible.com, Dean Koontz, Hideaway by Dean Koontz, our DEAN KOONTZ AUTHOR PAGE, Dragon Tears by Dean Koontz, Jay O. Sanders, The Day After Tomorrow, Rogue Berzerker by Fred Saberhagen, The Adventure Of The Metal Murderer, time travel, Sherlock Holmes, Wings Out Of Shadow, DH Audio, Manfred von Richthofen, Hermann Göring, Paul Michael Garcia, Berzerker Fury, Empire Of The East by Fred Saberhagen |READ OUR REVIEW|, Willie Wonka!, Penguin Audio, Fire by Kristin Cashore, Full Cast Audio, Graceling by Kristin Cashore, Macmillan Audio, Hidden Empire by Orson Scott Card, Shadow Complex, side-scrolling video games, Peter David, the attempt to boycott Orson Scott Card’s video games, casual gamers vs. hard core gamers, Fallout 3, Medal Of Honor, DRM, copyfight, They’re Made Of Meat by Terry Bisson (adapted by FredOSphere), Seeing Ear Theatre, J. Michael Straczynski’s City Of Dreams (available via ThePirateBay.org), Towing Jehovah by James Morrow, Luke Burrage‘s Science Fiction Book Review Podcast (reviewing Anathem by Neal Stephenson), William Dufris, Sci Fi Song’s The Ballad Of Wilson Cole, Mike Resnick’s Starship series, FREE Ringworld by Larry Niven, Grover Gardner IS Tom Parker, New Releases, Audible Frontiers, William Gibson, Burning Chrome, Mona Lisa Overdrive, Jonathan Davis, All Tomorrow’s Parties, The Telling by Ursula K. Le Guin, The Word For World Is Forest, Book Of The Road, The Unpleasant Profession Of Jonathan Hoag by Robert A. Heinlein , The Day Of The Triffids by John Wyndham, The Chrysalids, David Weber‘s Honor Harrington series, The Plague Of The Dead by Z.A Recht, a zombie plague that makes people: calm, reasonable, rational and peaceful?, Macmillian Audio, A Deepness In the Sky by Vernor Vinge, the Blake’s 7 Audio Adventures series is now on Audible.com!, space opera, social Science Fiction, Robin Hood, Babylon 5, Brave New World, 1984, Memoirs From A Bathtub by Stanislaw Lem, Terry Gilliam, Twelve Monkeys, Philip K. Dick, Franz Kafka, Tantor Media, The Unincorporated Man by Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin, Stranger In A Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein, deep exploration of ideas in fiction, Todd McLaren, Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan |READ OUR REVIEW|, the Prometheus Award, libertarianism, Collapse by Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs And Steel, Easter Island, Hawaii, Montana, Greenland, ecosystems, The Teaching Company, World War II: A Military and Social History by Thomas Childers, A Military History of WWII by Trevor Nevitt Dupuy Col. U.S. Army, Ret., Italian Frogmen in WWII, Benito Mussolini.

Vincent Price with Paul K. Willis on the set of The Hilarious House Of Frightenstein

Posted by Jesse Willis

New Releases – Wonder Audio, Leiber and Weinbaum

January 22, 2009 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: New Releases 

SFFaudio Recent Arrivals

Did you know you can get either of these titles, as well as any other Wonder Audio title for free?  Just sign up at Audible.com/WonderAudio

The Night of the Long KnivesThe Night of the Long Knives
By Fritz Leiber; Read by Mark Douglas Nelson
3hr,  37 min.- [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Wonder Audio
Published: 2009

Available at Audible & iTunes

A Deathlander’s life is a rough one. Atomic radiation, murder and sex preoccupies the sparse inhabitants of what used to be a great portion of America’s West. Kill or be killed is the law of this sickened land. Multicolored radioactive dusts floats in the atmosphere of this nuclear desert.

When Ray Baker meets a woman on his sojourn, he doesn’t know if he wants to kill her or sleep with her. Ray doesn’t understand his urge to murder. But he feels it like all the other Deathlanders. Just as he knows the girl feels it. Laying down their arsenal of weapons will leave them both vulnerable. The cost of a moment of intimacy may lead to the last moments of their lives. And what to do when the act is over, and both their minds turn back to murder.

Parasite Planet: The Ham & Pat StoriesParasite Planet: The Ham & Pat Stories
By Stanley G. Weinbaum; Read by Mark Douglas Nelson
3hr, 47 min.- [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Wonder Audio
Published: 2009

Available at Audible & iTunes

The short and meteoric career of Stanley G. Weinbaum produced many instantly hailed classics. None had the breadth of wonder, and adventure with philosophic insight as the trilogy of stories that feature Ham Hammond and Patricia Burlingame.

Parasite Planet begins with Ham Hammond trekking across the surface of Venus. The environment is parasitic, filled with bizarre alien life forms like the lasso throwing Jack Ketch Trees and the doughpots, a mindless omnivorous ball of animate cells that devour all living things in their path. When Ham meets the contentious Patricia Burlingame, they have to march across Venus to safety. It’s not clear what is going to kill them first, Venus’s hostile environment or each other.

In The Lotus Eaters, Ham and Pat are on a special scientific expedition to the dark-side of Venus. They discover a strange warm-blooded plant. The most disconcerting thing about the plant is when it begins speaking English and waxing philosophically.

The Planet of Doubt brings the duo to Uranus on another special scientific expedition. The cloudy shrouded terrain strikes terror into the heart of Ham as tries to find the lost Pat who he hopes is still be alive!

Posted by The Time Traveler of the Time Traveler Show

Review of Pellucidar by Edgar Rice Burroughs

August 30, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

LibriVox Science Fiction Audiobook - Pellucidar by Edgar Rice BurroughsPellucidar (2nd in the Pellucidar series)
By Edgar Rice Burroughs; Read by Ralph Snelson
16 Zipped MP3s or Podcast – Approx. 6 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: August 2008
Themes: / Science Fiction / Hollow Earth / Adventure / Prehistoric Beasts / Exploration / Nautical /

Pellucidar is a difficult audiobook to review because it is quite dependent on the listener being reasonably familiar with its predecessor, At the Earth’s Core. Unfortunately, the LibriVox version of At the Earth’s Core is still in its very early stages, though there is a nice looking commercial version by Tantor available.

Taking the above into account, the LibriVox Pellucidar is an enjoyable listen with plenty of adventure, a grand odyssey, new characters, and one of the coolest “dogs” (hyenadons) ever imagined. Its only flaw, a rather minor one, is its rather abrupt/summarized ending.

Pellucidar continues the adventures of David Innes, and too a lesser extent Abner Perry, in the Hollow Earth land of Pellucidar, after the surprise, cliffhanger ending of its precursor. David treks across much of Pellucidar in search of his lost love, Dian the Beautiful (It must be such a burden going through life with that epithet). Overall a fun adventure story with a few clever twists.

Ralph Snelson does a very straight, non-interpretive, reading of the story with little excess of emotion or dramatization. It is a simple, pleasant reading without bells and whistles. This is another good reading that proves the value of LibriVox’s free audiobooks.

An enjoyable audiobook, but only for those who have heard or read its predecessor (The movie would help a little, but not as much)

Posted by David Tackett

Review of The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

August 7, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

Science Fiction Audiobook Review

Science Fiction Audio Drama - The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan DoyleThe Lost World
By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, performed by a full cast
2 Cassettes, 2 CDs, Approx. 2 hours – [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Published: 1997
ISBN: 7671401800 (cassettes), 9780671577209 (CDs)
Themes: / Science fiction / Adventure / Exploration / Dinosaurs / Lost Civilizations / Archeology /

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is known as the creator and writer of that most famous sleuth, Sherlock Homes. Doyle was somewhat resentful of that character’s phenomenal success as it overshadowed all his other writings. His most popular and enduring work that did not feature Sherlock Homes is The Lost World, the story of Professor Challenger and his team of explorers that go to the Amazon jungle and find a primeval plateau inhabited by dinosaurs and ape-men.

Alien Voices was formed in 1996 by Star Trek alumni Leonard Nimoy and John de Lancie with writer-producer Nat Segaloff. These are full cast adaptations with sound effects and music. The Lost World was released as the third Alien Voices title after The Time Machine and Journey to the Center of the Earth. They recorded this release in front of a live audience during the Grand Slam’s Star Trek convention in 1997. The production values are great with terrific sound and a talented cast.

I’ve never read the original work by Doyle, so I won’t speak on the adaptation’s faithfulness. I did look over the text enough to know that the character of Professor Summerlee was switched from male to female for this adaptation. This was a wise move that added a dimension that was not in the original work. Professor Summerlee is played by Roxann Dawson and is strong-willed and independent. Which is as it should be, and Prof. Summerlee stands out as the most interesting character in the cast. Unfortunately, this is one of the few elements that seem fresh and interesting.

My main contention with this adaptation is that it moves too slowly in the beginning. Nearly the first third of the story takes place in London as Professor Challenger gathers his crew for the expedition. This story is an old one. Although as I mentioned I haven’t read the book, I am familiar with the story. We know there are dinosaurs coming, and yet we have to wade through the lengthy backstory. The narrative follows a straight chronological order. A better approach, while still being a faithful adaptation, would be starting the story in the Lost World with some heavy action. The backstory could then be filled with flashbacks in more episodic doses. One of the characters, Malone, is a newspaper reporter that goes on the expedition as a correspondent. The reporter sends dispatches to the newspaper. This narrative device could have been easily utilized to encompass these expositorial flashbacks. So despite a great performance by cast and crew, this versions pacing and lack of surprises makes it a tiring listen.

Review of Jupiter by Ben Bova

June 30, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Audiobook Review

Science Fiction Audiobooks - Jupiter by Ben BovaJupiter
By Ben Bova; Read by Christian Noble and
David Warner
8 Cassettes, 10 CDs – 12 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Fantastic Audio
Published: 2001
ISBN: 1574534114 (cassette)
Themes: / Science Fiction / Solar System / Scientists / Aliens / Exploration
/ First Contact / Espionage

“We will be exploring a region where no human has gone before. We will be searching for life on a world that is utterly alien to us. We will be seeking intelligent life, if it exists, down in the sea. These are good things to do no matter how much discomfort we have to endure.”

Ben Bova has been creating novels in his Grand Tour series since 1992. The series is based on a speculative near future exploration of our solar system. If you haven’t read or listened to any of these books, Jupiter is a good place to start. In this novel the main character, Grant Archer, is sent to a Jupiter research station. He is sent as an unwitting spy for a theocratic government. The fundamentalist religious government is afraid of some secret research that could destabilize their political control. Grant Archer, who is a scientist and a devout believer, struggles with the dual role that has been thrust upon him. He has to figure out why the space station has a genetically altered gorilla and a unique space craft tethered to the station. And there’s big question of what the crew has discovered on the massive planet, Jupiter.

The audiobook is read by two actors, Christian Noble and David Warner. I find multiple narrators confusing. I’m not talking of a cast recording here, but of the narrative duties of a novel being divided between two or more people. While listening, I wonder why there’s a change of narrators instead of paying attention to the story. That’s not the case on this audiobook. There’s a shift of viewpoint, which is easily understood, and one is quite divergent from the other.

The audiobook begins with a nice introduction by Ben Bova’s long time friend, Harlan Ellison. And there’s a also a postscript by the author himself. Nice additions to an already rewarding listen.

Bova is a master of his craft. His characters and world-building are well developed. His theme of religion versus science is well defined. His plotting is well paced. He writes with a scientific accuracy that places him as one of the best hard SF writers. He has written over 100 books and has won six Hugos. Is this the next SF Grand Master? I can’t think of a better candidate.

ed. – This review was of Ben Bova’s Jupiter as released in 2001 by Fantastic Audio. In 2005, Audio Renaissance re-issued this same recording on CD – ISBN 1593974884.

Review of Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne

June 21, 2006 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Alien Voices - Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules VerneJourney to the Center of the Earth
By Jules Verne, performed by a full cast
2 Tapes, Approx. 2 hours – [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Audio
Published: 1998
ISBN: 0671872281
Themes: / Science fiction / Adventure / Exploration / Geology /

One should not drink from the same well of audio books in rapid succession. I recently listened to Alien Voices’ The First Men in the Moon, and found this one just a little too similar for my liking. The main characters in both consist of a crusty professor and a younger, more energetic helper; in both cases the professor is voiced by Leonard Nimoy and the younger man by John DeLancie; and in both cases the two men go off to explore some unknown world and discover amazing adventures.

This book suffers in the comparison not just because it came second, but because it isn’t quite as good. The plot involves a wild trip, but one that brings the characters into contact with only monsters and forces of nature, not other intelligences; whereas The First Men in the Moon brings us into an alien society that has chilling implications for our own. The soundscapes of this book are neither as rich nor as immediately immersive as the first, and the characters are not played that distinctly different. Leonard Nimoy is good, but he’s just so darned good-natured that his character only seems foul tempered by others’ report. His heart isn’t really in it, and Herr Doktor Liedenbrock comes off no less pleasant than the buzzing Professor Caver. And John DeLancie’s true talent comes in portraying morally suspect characters. Here, his sweet Axel, the Doctor’s nephew, never quite rings true.

Not to say either man does a bad job, or that the sound isn’t excellent, or even that the adaptation doesn’t rip right along and offer plenty of adventure, quaint as the concepts are. But it just doesn’t grab you in the gut, it doesn’t feel inevitable, and it doesn’t offer any fresh insight into the human condition. In short, it doesn’t bring a classic story from the dawn of science fiction into our living presence, and as such, it really isn’t worth the time. Based on my previous exposure, I think it would be a mistake to write off other Alien Voices titles, but I wouldn’t break any bones rushing out to get hold of this one.

Posted by Kurt Dietz

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