Review of Starstruck by Elaine Lee, Susan Norfleet and Dale Place

February 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

AUDIO DRAMA - StarstruckStarstruck
Based on the comic series and the play by Elaine Lee and Mike Kaluta; Adapted by Elaine Lee, Susan Norfleet and Dale Place; Performed by a full cast
2 CDs – Approx. 2 Hours 11 Minutes
Publisher: The Audio Comics Company
Published: 2010
ISBN: 9780615411439
Themes: / Humor / Science Fiction / Space Opera / Feminism / Galactic Civilization /

The basis for the critically acclaimed comic book series, Starstruck was first presented off-off-Broadway in 1980, and again off-Broadway in 1983. In a far-flung and very alternative future, Captain Galatia 9 and the crew of the Harpy and on a mission for the United Federation of Female Freedom Fighters. When the Harpy runs into a living ship inhabited by a team of galactic evildoers, including Galatia’s insidious sister Verloona Ti, the outcome of the battle may well decide the fate of the free universe. The AudioComics Company is proud to present the audio adaptation of the play script as its inaugural production! Often hilarious, always surprising, Starstruck is a spine-tingling joy-ride to the far side of the spiral arm!

I’ve listened to all 2 hours or so. There’s certainly a rich variety of different voices, special effects, and music, on a level with Graphic Audio. You can hear a lot of samples at Amazon. But I found the plot and the humor challenging to follow. Wikipedia called the original play obtuse (as in not staightforward), and I agree. Maybe they should give you a 10 minute sample, to show what you’re getting into. The acting is played for humor, and way over the top. I’m a fan of Michael Kaluta’s run on the old Shadow DC comic, but there are no visuals here. I’ll definitely check out the reprint of the Starstruck comic in hardcover, when it comes out soon. Those not familiar with the play or the comics will find this audiodrama difficult to get into.

Posted by Tamahome

Review of The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison

January 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews, SFFaudio essential 

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audiobook - The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry HarrisonSFFaudio EssentialThe Stainless Steel Rat
By Harry Harrison; Read by Phil Gigante
4 CDs – Approx. 5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: 2010
ISBN: 9781441881076
Themes: / Science Fiction / Crime / Espionage / Galactic Civilization / Humor /

Jim DiGriz is caught during one of his crimes and recruited into the Special Corps. Boring, routine desk work during his probationary period results in his discovering that someone is building a battleship, thinly disguised as an industrial vessel. In the peaceful League no one has battleships anymore, so the builder of this one would be unstoppable. DiGriz’ hunt for the guilty becomes a personal battle between himself and the beautiful but deadly Angelina, who is planning a coup on one of the feudal worlds. DiGriz’ dilemma is whether he will turn Angelina over to the Special Corps, or join with her, since he has fallen in love with her.

As I write this dilatory review of Harry Harrison’s The Stainless Steel Rat I am just a few minutes away from finishing the follow up, The Stainless Steel Rat’s Revenge. Thus I feel doubly guilty. For while the intellectual mulling over of a book is a natural part of the reviewing process – it is but certainly ungenerous to actually begin the sequel without having delivered the original its full due. Worse, listening to this lightweight series is very much like gobbling down fisfull after fistful of a delightful confection – I am enjoying it immensely but can`t say it is particularly good at nourishing my intellect.

The Stainless Steel Rat very much deserves its due! The Stainless Steel Rat is a rollicking first person perspective adventure set amongst the resplendent plenitude of an interstellar empire. Slippery Jim DeGriz, our convivial protagonist, has a heart half filled with the milk of human kindness and half filled with a contempt of rules and rituals that the social contract requires of him. Thus he is a both anti-hero and hero, and twice as virtuous in his roguish thievery. In this, his first recorded adventure, Slippery Jim outlines the shape of his variegated and thoroughgoingly criminal career thus far, is quickly inducted into a corps of criminal conspirators that`s working for the galactic government (it`s funded by bank robberies), and falls in love (with a mortiferous murderess). The adventure is slick, quick and comic – the many scenes composing the plot are portrayed in an almost cartoonish manner (in the best possible sense of that term). And when Slippery Jim finally catches the arch-criminal he`s after – the plot follows the centuries old axiom of ìt takes a thief to catch a thief – and Slippery Jim finds that Angelina, his Lady MacBeth, is no fan of the milk of human kindness, thinking it rather distasteful stuff.

Narrator Phil Gigante reads the first person perspective tale with a transparency that`s expected of a professional narrator – his wry delivery follows the text, and gently brushes the voices of all the other speaking characters with the aural equivalent of a glistening gloss. This is the first audiobook publication of The Stainless Steel Rat, which was first published in its complete form nearly 50 years ago. The audiobook is an utter delight, being fun and funny, short, to the point, and utterly, utterly consumable. Highly recommended!

Update:

Here are the very first illustrations of The Stainless Steel Rat, from the August 1957 issue of Astounding Science Fiction (which contained the original short story):

The Stainless Steel Rat - Illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas - from Astounding Science Fiction, August 1957

The Stainless Steel Rat - Illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas - from Astounding Science Fiction, August 1957

The Stainless Steel Rat - Illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas - from Astounding Science Fiction, August 1957

Posted by Jesse Willis

LibriVox: D-99 by H.B. Fyfe

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

SFFaudio Online Audio

LibriVoxJerry Pyle, one of the participants in the Fourth Annual SFFaudio Challenge writes in to say:

hey jesse…

good news! i just completed D-99! you can find it here:

http://librivox.org/d-99-by-h-b-fyfe/

this was such an amazing experience. i just want to thank you for letting me be a part of the sffaudio challenge.

jer

Thank you Jerry!

Jerry has that all backwards of course – it was Jerry, along with the other cool folks at LibriVox that deserve our thanks. He and they have made us all a public domain Science Fiction audiobook that we can both enjoy and share with our friends forever and ever! If there’s any gratitude left after Jerry and LibriVox take their fair share it should go to Rick Jackson of Wonder Audio. Rick both suggested and commisioned the proofing of the etext for the Challenge. H.B. Fyfe himself is beyond accepting our thanks personally – he was transmuted, in 1997, into a force more powerful than we can possibly imagine. Should we need to we could spread any other deserved thanks a little further afield – we could also thank one of the audiobook publishers who supplied the prizes from which Jerry can now pick!

So Jerry, which 4th Annual SFFaudio Challenge prize would you like?

LIBRIVOX - D-99 by H.B. FyfeD-99
By H.B. Fyfe; Read by Jerry Pyle
20 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 4 Hours 40 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: January 03, 2010
EARTHMEN IN TROUBLE Harris was caged in an underwater “zoo” by a pack of blue lobsters. Maria drew a five-year sentence on a puritanical planet for trying to buy a souvenir–and for being excessively feminine. Taranto and Meyers had committed the crime of being shipwrecked on a planet that didn’t like strangers. Gerson was simply kidnapped. And nobody had any idea why five citizens of Terra were being held on other worlds–and the ultra-secret Department 99 existed only to set them, and others like them, free. This tense novel is the story of one evening’s work for Department 99–their successes and failures–and of the strange crisis that almost wrecked D-99.

Podcast feed: http://librivox.org/rss/3755

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

The audiobook is also available in two etext formats |PDF | and |HTML| – in case you’d like to read along!

[Special thanks also to Barry Eads (aka KiltedDragon) and James Christopher (aka Steampunk) @ LibriVox and Rick Jackson @ Wonder Audio!]

Posted by Jesse Willis

LibriVox: Ultima Thule by Mack Reynolds

November 29, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

LibriVoxKaren Savage, one of the participants in this year’s SFFaudio Challenge, has completed her narration of Ultima Thule by Mack Reyolds and placed it on LibriVox.org! This is absolutely terrific! We’ll be sending Karen her choice of prize soon. If you’d like to hear this BRAND NEW, UNABRIDGED, FREE and PUBLIC DOMAIN audiobook you now have a half dozen ways do it. The files are available as a Zipped Folder full of MP3 files, via an iTunes 1-Click subscription, a regular podcast feed, or as individual file downloads. In fact I expect to see this as a torrent soon too.

In addition to being a really terrific narrator, Savage is a blogger, knitter and avid audiobook listener (check out her recent post about the less restrictive DRM on Net Library). Thanks so much Karen!

LibriVox - Ultima Thule by Mack ReynoldsUltima Thule
By Mack Reynolds; Read by Karen Savage
13 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 2 Hours 29 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: November 23, 2009
Ronny Bronston has dreamed all his life of getting a United Planets job that would take him off-world. He finally gets the opportunity when he is given a provisional assignment with Bureau of Investigation, Section G. But will he be able to complete his assignment and find the elusive Tommy Paine?

Podcast feed:

http://librivox.org/rss/3735

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

[Thanks also to Diana Majlinger]

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Quarter Share by Nathan Lowell

August 26, 2009 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Reviews, SFFaudio essential 

SFFaudio Review

Podiobooks.com - Quarter Share by Nathan LowellSFFaudio EssentialQuarter Share
By Nathan Lowell; Read by Nathan Lowell
17 MP3 File Podcast – Approx. 8 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Podiobooks.com
Published: February – March 2007
Themes: / Science Fiction / Space Travel / Galactic Civilization /

When Ishmael Wang is orphaned by a flitter crash, he must make some hard decisions about how to survive in a Company-owned universe. With limited time and fewer options, he lands a job as the newest hand on the Solar Clipper Lois McKendrick and learns there’s more to life than making coffee. Join Ish, Pip, Big Bad Bev, and the rest of the Lois McKendrick’s crew as they sail the galaxy in search of profitable trade.

I listened to this podcast novel with no intention of reviewing it. But after putting $10 in the tip jar at Podiobooks.com it kind of seemed dumb not to give you another $0.02 with my opinion of it. It was just too good not to recommend. The story follows Ish Wang, a young kid without enough education or cash to make his way off the planet he’s orphaned on. He experiences a lot of other hurdles too. But, through perseverance, the kindness of a few strangers and a generous natural ability, he finds his place in the universe; and that place is as an able spaceman aboard a merchant spaceship called the Lois McKendrick. Nathan Lowell’s universe depicts a galactic civilization that is probably the least Science Fictiony ever created. Sure they’re traveling in interstellar spacecraft at faster than light speeds, but that doesn’t mean the beds don’t have to be made and the coffee filter doesn’t have to be scrubbed out. There are things to do to make this ship and crew run for heaven’s sake! Making friends and making profit aren’t usually the major plot points in a Science Fiction novel set in space. But, then again Nathan Lowell’s characters aren’t your typical space navy types either. Their more realistic for one. Their more dynamic than virtually any cosmic deckhands than I’ve spent time with in any other novel. there are now 5 novels in this series and a new 6th is forthcoming. I’ve just heard this one, the first, but the very next assembly job I take on will be made all the more enjoyable by having a Nathan Lowell audiobook in my ears.

This podiobook is read by the author, he tells this tale as if it were his very own life story. I would swear he must have been in the merchant navy at some point. What else could explain his vivid and fascinating depiction of such duty? I listened to most of Quarter Share while assembling a gazebo in my mother’s front yard. Let me give you a piece of advice. If you’ve got a gazebo to assemble you really want to have Quarter Share in your MP3 player. Quarter Share is a novel about work. Work, done well, by good, honest and hardworking people. I’ve never heard a novel that spent as much time talking about work, the minutae of it, or for that matter one that tells me how good coffee gets made (it’s all about having a clean pot dontcha know). If Nathan Lowell ever swings by these parts I’ll invite him over. Maybe we’ll even swing by my mother’s gazebo. He can make the coffee.

For more testimonials about how awesome Quarter Share is be sure to check out the official comments thread for it over on Podiobooks.com

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Way Station by Clifford D. Simak

July 30, 2009 by · 13 Comments
Filed under: Reviews, SFFaudio essential 

SFFaudio Review

Audible Frontiers - Way Station by Clifford D. SimakSFFaudio EssentialWay Station
By Clifford D. Simak; Read by Eric Michael Summerer
Audible Download – Approx. 7 Hours 5 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audible Frontiers
Published: 2009
Themes: / Science Fiction / Aliens / Galactic Civilization / Immortality /

In this Hugo Award-winning classic, Enoch Wallace is an ageless hermit, striding across his untended farm as he has done for over a century, still carrying the gun with which he had served in the Civil War. But what his neighbors must never know is that, inside his unchanging house, he meets with a host of unimaginable friends from the farthest stars.

This story spans more than a century, but most of the ‘action’ takes place in the middle of the 20th century, over a couple of months. See, a friendly alien recruited Enoch Wallace to become something of a galactic station master shortly after the American Civil War. Now, with his neighbors generally accepting his mysterious eternal youth, Enoch has a curious and unseen visitor watching him from the woods. Enoch is lonely, with his only friends being a completely deaf and mute young woman and his kindly mailman. Will the visitor in the trees learn the truth? Will Enoch help guide the Earth to its ultimate destiny? Read on!

I find myself arguing with a lot of my fiction writing friends about what makes a good story. They typically talk about ‘the rules’ or ‘the formula’ that makes a story work. I typically talk about clarity, consistency (story logic) and originality of a story. We usually agree about style.

A couple years back a friend of mine (a filmmaker and used bookstore owner) was telling me about one of the scripts he was working on. He said something to the effect of “every story must have conflict.” That’s probably not a new concept, not original to him, but it was new to me – at least in those words. Now I love such sweeping declarations – they give my dialectical brain something to hack away at. It seems a fairly straightforward a concept – and on the face of it seems likely – but, that always gets me thinking: If it sounds so obvious it is probably at least partially false. So I thought about it for maybe thirty seconds and then pointed out that ‘pornographic films need not have conflict – but they can still have a story.’ Illustrating I said “Pizza delivery guy comes to the door – half naked woman answers – sex follows.” It has a beginning, a middle and a money shot. My friend and I both laughed. But, I’ve been thinking about this meme ever since. Now, with Way Station I think I have a more serious defeater to my friend’s all encompassing rule about storytelling. There is very little conflict in Way Station. That is actually a pretty common thing for author Clifford D. Simak. His stories are highly pastoral, full of backstories being revealed, mysterious farmers and friendly aliens. Conflict may be mentioned, as having happened long ago (or in some distant future) – but shots are rarely fired in anger. I’m thinking back on all of the Simak I’ve read, and in it all I can’t recall much conflict at all. And yet, I love his stories.

Eric Michael Summerer does a terrific job narrating this pastoral masterpiece. He portrays Simak’s characters with all the honesty, decency, and humanity that Clifford D. Simak put into them. Audible Frontiers has very kindly added an excellent and informative introduction written and read by another of Science Fiction’s most humane authors, Mike Resnick! Audible Frontiers has been adding so many new titles it is hard to keep up. This one will slow things down for you and even make life a little simpler. Thanks Simak!

Posted by Jesse Willis

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