Review of Starship: Pirate by Mike Resnick

December 10, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Starship: Pirate, Book 2 by Mike ResnickStarship: Pirate, Book 2
By Mike Resnick; Read by Jonathan Davis
Audible Download – 8 Hours 45 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audible Frontiers
Published: April 2008
Themes: / Science Fiction / Space Opera / Galactic Civilization / Aliens / Piracy / Crime / Military SF /

Seeking to find a new life for themselves, Cole and comrades remake the Teddy R. as a pirate ship and set sail for the lawless Inner Frontier. There, powerful warlords, cut-throat pirates, and struggling colonies compete for survival in a game where you rarely get a second chance to learn the rules. But military discipline is poor preparation for a life of pillaging and plundering, and Cole’s principles limit his targets. Seeking an education on the nature of piracy, Cole hunts more knowledgeable players: the beautiful but deadly Valkyrie, the enigmatic alien fence David Copperfield, and the fearsome alien pirate known as the Hammerhead Shark.

Avast! All hands take heed of this fine awdio-booke! It be a speedy chaser to Starship: Mutiny – and who among ye haven’t read that yet? The scurvy lot who han’t yet, ought! Those who ha, read on.

Writer of the booke be one named Resnick, he be an experienced one, charting a course that leads to high adventure and much profite. There be little ballast for this be a fast journey. But I forewarn thee, there be parts where you’ll feel clapped in irons (unable to stop listening).

The keel of this story be straight and true. Though to be fair there was one leak into the bilge (a repeated line missed in the editing). Skippering the narration of this yarn be a yank of some experience. Jonathan Davis, he who tole the story of the Teddy R. and crew from the first booke (Starship: Mutiny), returns to bedevil the shores of many star systems again. Me spyglass reports that he be crewing the next booke, Starship: Mercenary as well. That be a good thing. Behind this yarn be Audible Frontiers. A new publisher of some new repute. And their stocks look unto being a great treasure trove of riches – fit nigh for many a plundering (mind ye though there be DRM). Better, and fitter, just sign your X and get an account. It be a wise move me hearties.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Five Free Favourites #3

August 1, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Five Free Favourites
Five more faves, five more of my best bets. These are stories to make your mind say “yum yum” and your wallet say “nightie-night”…

1.
Mech Muse - After A Lean Winter by David FarlandAfter A Lean Winter
By David Farland; Read by Rick Jelinek
1 |M4A| File – Approx. 1 Hour [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: MechMuse
Podcast: Spring 2006
I’m very pleased to see all the released MechMuse stories still available online. Of the dozen or so of stories released, I think this one is my favourite. It’s set six months or so after the events of H.G. Well’s The War Of The Worlds and features a protagonist named “Jack London,” who like the other residents of the Yukon, is still struggling against a Martian menace that still survives up there.

2.
The Time Traveler Show - Beyond Lies The Wub by Philip K. DickBeyond Lies The Wub
By Philip K. Dick; Read by Mac Kelly
1 |MP3| – [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: The Time Traveler Show
Podcast: December 2006
The best Xmas gift I received in 2006 was this podcast short story! This was Dick’s first ever published tale, it’s one of his best too. And, I find holds up to multiple listenings. I recommend it often. Knowledge of Homer’s Odyssey is recommended.

3.
Librivox Audiobook - The Green Odyssey by Philip Jose FarmerThe Green Odyssey
By Philip Jose Farmer; Read by Mark Douglas Nelson
10 Zipped MP3s or Podcast – 6 Hours 6 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: December 2006
Publisher: LibriVox.org
This FREE audiobook was created on a dare. As one of the titles from the first SFFaudio Challenge I asked budding narrators to make single-voiced audiobooks from a list of public domain titles. This was the very first to meet the challenge – it is also one of the best. Set on a grassy plain on an obscure alien planet – it’s fast, funny, and makes for quite a romp. A novel in the spirit of Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court

Subscribe using this feed:

http://librivox.org/bookfeeds/the-green-odyssey-by-philip-jose-farmer.xml

4.
Science Fiction Audiobook - Star Surgeon by Alan E. NourseStar Surgeon
By Alan E. Nourse; Read by Scott D. Farquhar
14 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – 5 Hours 25 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Podiobooks.com
Published: October 2007
Dal Tigmar is an alien doctor with a sort of interstellar Médecins Sans Frontières. As a recent graduate of the Galaxy’s most prestigious medical school, on Earth, he’s been trained to treat every disease in the book. But racism isn’t a disease even he can treat. This is a real peppy 50 year old novel, that still crackles with energy. It plays out like a typical Heinleinian juvenile, minus the lectures. You’ll love it.

5.
X Minus 1X-Minus One: The Lifeboat Mutiny
Based on the story by Robert Sheckley; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 28 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Broadcaster: NBC Radio
Broadcast: September 11, 1956
Provider: Archive.org
I find a lot of X-Minus One hit or miss, but this Robert Sheckley story works. In fact, I’ve used the script for it twice just this month! Kids love it, adults love it. It’s funny, and it’s FREE! My only nit-pick is that the actor playing the lifeboat is not emotional enough – he totally underplays the scripted dialogue. When I do this part, I always play it highly emotional.

I’m still soliciting podcasters and bloggers for their lists, if you’ve a batch of five free faves you think just can’t be ignored, either post em below, or send me an email.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi

April 19, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audiobook - The Ghost Brigades by John ScalziThe Ghost Brigades
By John Scalzi; Read by William Dufris
Audible Download – 10 Hours 28 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Macmillan Audio / Audible.com
Published: March 2008
Themes: / Science Fiction / Military SF / War / Telepathy / Space Travel / Galactic Civilization / Consciousness Uploading / Colonization /

The Ghost Brigades are the Special Forces of the Colonial Defense Forces, elite troops created from the DNA of the dead and turned into the perfect soldiers for the CDF’s toughest operations. They’re young, they’re fast and strong, and they’re totally without normal human qualms. For the universe is a dangerous place for humanity – and it’s about to become far more dangerous. Three races that humans have clashed with before have allied to halt our expansion into space. Their linchpin: the turncoat military scientist Charles Boutin, who knows the CDF’s biggest military secrets. To prevail, the CDF most find out why Boutin did what he did.

The Colonial Defense Forces brass have stumbled upon a device containing a copy of the consciousness of one of their foremost research scientists. In order to find out what he knows they’ll embody him in a genetically modified clone body – and name that being Jared Dirac. But when the transfer happens Dirac doesn’t seem to have the memories he’s supposed to – and so Dirac is enlisted in the Special Forces (AKA the “Ghost Brigades”) only to eventually become involved in a search for his missing progenitor.

The Ghost Brigades is a thoughtful extension of the ideas created in Old Man’s War. I’m of two minds on series books, I understand the appeal – you get more of what you liked – but the drawbacks are usually the exact same thing – you get more of the same and thus fewer new ideas! But, on the other hand you do get more of the same feeling. Scalzi’s writing style is streamlined, efficient and good humored. I really zipped through The Ghost Brigades too, it took the space of three days or so. One thing that lessened my enthusiasm was the perspectival change. In Old Man’s War we follow one character’s first person POV from beginning to end. Whereas in The Ghost Brigades the closest we get to a central character is Jared Dirac, who occupies about three fifths of the POV. The rest is either Jean Sagan (a memorable character from OMW) or various minor characters. Still, there are plenty of interesting curly-cues coming off of the ideas established in OMW. The Gameron’s (a group of purpose built space-faring soldiers) and the various aliens and villains all have interesting things to say. Also welcome are the speculations on the nature of consciousness and memory as well as more on everybody’s favorite piece of future tech – the “BrainPal”! The BrainPal, I am certain, is something Scalzi will be forever remembered for. Beyond the central plot, which involves two BrainPal researchers, one human, one not, there is the classic ‘galactic human empire at constant war’ motif. It’s cool.

During the listening I was reminded of a pen and paper RPG in the space adventures game I made after reading Starship Troopers and The Forever War in the 1980s. The missions the CDF-SF soldiers undertook in The Ghost Brigades could have come from one of the “modules” I made (I was pretty proud of that stuff so think of it as a serious compliment). As the novel progressed I came to like the ideas of The Ghost Brigades more and more, especially those espoused by a traitor to humanity – giving a very noir spin to the common thread connecting the universes of Starship Troopers, The Forever War and Old Man’s War. If you loved Old Man’s War you’ll definitely like The Ghost Brigades.

One of the coolest parts of the book came in a speech about one of the alien species – Scalzi takes the David Brin “uplift” idea and mixes in a little Daniel Dennett – namely Dennet’s brilliant reply to John Searle’s Chinese Room Argument (a thought experiment on artificial intelligence) – to terrificly thoughtful effect. Scalzi’s philosophy degree pays off yet again!

Narrator William Dufris reprises his SFFaudio Essential reading duties with this, the second Scalzi novel to be audiobook’d. Dufris has a secret weapon, he’ll sneak up on you – delivering simple lines in ways you might not have if you picked up in the paperbook and read it aloud for a friend. He’s reading all the words, but he’s performing the characters. His experience in the reading OMW contributes to the continuity of pronunciation and line delivery. I hope Macmillan Audio will consider Dufris when audiobooking some of Scalzi’s non-series novels too.

*And remember folks, after listening to The Ghost Brigades you can pick up the FREE AUDIOBOOK of The Sagan Diary HERE.

Posted by Jesse Willis