The SFFaudio Podcast #417 – READALONG: The Gripping Hand by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

April 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #417 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Maissa discuss The Gripping Hand by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

Talked about on today’s show:
1993, a sequel to a 1974 novel, a long digression, Protector, where does Larry Niven end and Jerry Pournelle begin?, Larry Niven is the aliens, Jerry Pournelle was the humans and the military, what’s happening?, too many battles, a secret tramline, plot beats, The Mote In Gods Eye is more muscular, a second first contact, the empire is slipping, privileges vs. responsibilities, doing duty, they were shinier, WWII, the least interesting duty ever, graft, echo, the circular spiral of the Moties and the parallels with the human empire, the only difference between the Moties and the men is the differences, codicil to Horace Bury’s will, Isaac Asimov’s Foundation, too many space battles, a spacesuit full of watchmakers, kill them with fire, snow ghost, space Mormons, Reflex, A Spaceship For King David by Jerry Pournelle, the Langston field, read the Wikipedia entries before reading the books, a quasi-magic force-field, handwavium, wormhole subways gets stuff done, Babylon 5, He Fell Into A Dark Hole, kinda-sorta, feel and see the Niven Pournelle overlaps, the Janissaries novels, they’re gonna run out bullets soon, murderous centaurs, Inferno, Lucifer’s Hammer, it is interesting, a 70s disaster novel, Oath Of Fealty, Footfall, Legacy Of Herot, Fallen Angels, the Prometheus Award, anti-environmentalist, The Burning City, the Magic Goes Away universe, hit by the Niven and Pournelle hammer, Escape From Hell, sequels,

Jesse’s laws of sequels: The First Law: The second law is a sequel, and thus unneeded.

health problems, who named a planet Sauron?, too obvious, super-soldiers, military SF, war porn with laser guns, it doesn’t change the battlefield, first person shooter games, the whole point of technology is it changes things, dinosaurs, having done The Lord Of The Rings, a 2 cassette abridgement of The Gripping Hand, coffee, mispronunciations, pooping all over this book, Julie Davis, ruined the first book?, a visit to Mote Prime was missing, asteroid civilizations, the midshipman are a dead end, that’s cool!, birth control pills, the guy who invented a condom, Crazy Eddie, lifespan, tragic fatalism, bottled up, the explanation for super-conservative people, I got mine jack, it’s a fools errand…, all boondoggle, many such, 18 different levels of policing, the weed police (bylaw enforcement), just make a new agency after every crisis, anti-Greenpeace books, Cloak Of Anarchy, libertarianism is completely nuts, green crunchy granola, into that basket of deplorables, we don’t need roads, gold extraction as a proven technology, dude what are you doing?, greeners, let’s go the other way, nothing Ayn Rand ever wrote was wrong, Bury didn’t leave the bathtub, poor Kevin Renner, culinary adventure, he was the Errol Flynn of space, a girl in every port, breeding Blaines, motie rats, more Niven less Pournelle, the UK title: The Moat Around Murcheson’s Eye, mote vs. moat, more planets, helmsman full speed ahead, Sparta, the geology and topology, no map, good touches, unfair to Dr Pournelle, agricultural land reserve, mountains and islands and mountains, the Okanagan, reserving land for agricultural, the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Coruscant is just the city world (and complete bullshit), the Fleet Of Worlds has four farming planets, almost worth reading just for such touches, why I read Science Fiction, The Mote In God’s Eye was great, the Xindi from Star Trek: Enterprise, everything in TV and movies has to be simpler, the specificity of it, totally cool, you just abstain, progress since the 1970s, lying liars, abandon all orders, in comparison to Protector, it’s all about fate, there’s very little of free will in a motie, an inescapable cycle, going crazy eddy, less well expressed, where’s our stuffed space-marine in the museum?, publisher’s deadline?, they were hot shit in the 1980s, all space battles, families taking over the legacy of their parent’s writings, firmly make this commitment, one and done Dune, use The Gripping Hand of the Protector, focus on the family, free will, Ringworld and The Ringworld Engineers, the Puppeteers, what does this mean when we maximize it?, a second stage, vs., please do not write this book Paul, seeing the world from the master’s perspective, seeing inside their brain, the x-ray laser, the time machine element, the whole idea of crazy eddy is a great idea, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, amazing, or a crazy Bernie, fairy-duster, you must allow the bloat of the military continuously.

The Mote System
Trans-Coal Sack Sector Of The Empire Of Man

Posted by Jesse Willis

Lightspeed: The Way Of Cross And Dragon by George R.R. Martin

October 5, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Does it matter if what you believe is factual?

George R.R. Martin has an answer here in his very thoughtful piece of SF. The Way Of Cross And Dragon, which was recently audiobooked by Lightspeed, explores the concepts of heresy, blasphemy, faith and metaphor.

Omni, June 1979 - illustration by Bob Venosa - The Way Of Cross And Dragon by George R.R. Martin

Lightspeed MagazineLightspeed – The Way Of Cross And Dragon
By George R.R. Martin; Read by Stefan Rudnicki
1 |MP3| – Approx. 52 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: Lightspeed
Podcast: June 2012
First published in Omni, June 1979.

|ETEXT|

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Blake’s 7 The Early Years – Jenna: The Trial / The Dust Run (Vol. 1.5)

December 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Reviews, SFFaudio essential 

SFFaudio Review

Blake's 7 The Early Years - Jenna: The Trial / The Dust Run (Vol. 1.5)SFFaudio EssentialBlake’s 7 The Early Years – Jenna: The Trial / The Dust Run (Vol. 1.5)
By Simon Guerrier; Performed by a full cast
1 CD – Approx. 70 Minutes [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: B7 Productions
Published: November 30, 2009
ISBN: 9781906577087
Themes: / Science Fiction / Galactic Empire / Dystopia /

The Dust Run – Jenna Stannis has grown up as a spacer, where the normal rules don’t apply. No school, no police, no public imperatives – that’s still all to come. But the situation on Earth is changing and the effects are slowly being felt throughout the Vega system. It’s going to mean trouble for a brash boy called Townsend – who Jenna doesn’t fancy at all. Soon Jenna and Townsend are competing in the Dust Run – racing shuttles through an asteroid field without using computers, making the complex calculations in their heads. It’s dangerous, fool-hardy and really good fun. But they’re playing for the highest of stakes…

The Trial – The election is going to change everything. A man called Roj Blake promises the voters new hope, an end to years of corruption. There are those who can’t let him be heard. But Jenna Stannis is determined to get his message out to the colonies. It’s been years since the Dust Run, and Jenna’s a changed woman. She’s left the Vega system far behind, using her exceptional piloting skills to carve out a life as a smuggler. Blake’s message could earn her a fortune – or cost her, her life.

This is the final two stories in the first Blake’s 7 The Early Years series. First up is The Dust Run. It starts with a framing story in which we see the cruelty of the Earth Federation up close. Under torture Jenna, a young woman, reveals everything about her truant past. Then, in the story proper, we meet her as a charming teen. She comes from an underemployed spacer family, has just a few friends but none of them are particularly trustworthy. For fun Jenna likes piloting shuttles at high speed through a region of space filled with a heavy concentration of particulates. It’s precisely her lightheartedness that sets Jenna up for a fall.

The Trial also uses the framing device but skips ahead in time to the events which lead to Jenna’s incarceration. The problem is that her interrogator also claims to be acting as her advocate! If Jenna is to have any chance of avoiding imprisonment on Cygnus Alpha she’ll have to shade the truth. This episode reminded me of the other great Orwellian episodes of serial SF (like Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s “Chain of Command” – in which Picard is tortured and Babylon 5‘s “Intersections In Real Time” – in which Sheridan is tortured). The darkness of Jenna Stannis’ Federation universe is equally Orwellian, but, as I’ve mentioned in other reviews of this series it has more than a touch of Brave New World in it too. This new Blake’s 7 series, like it’s TV predecessor, is an intelligent Science Fiction series that masquerades as consumable pop-culture “sci-fi”.

Carrie Dobro, who played a charismatic alien thief in the Babylon 5: A Call To Arms TV-movie and on the prematurely canceled Babylon 5 spinoff Crusade, stars as Jenna Stannis. Dobro has a star-level magnetism in both these productions. She’s sure of herself, a devious and clever power seeker, never fully in control, always seeking it, but at heart a sympathetic survivor. Simon Guerrier and Carrie Dobro have created a worthy back-story for Jenna Stannis. Highly recommended!

Posted by Jesse Willis

Recent Arrivals: Macmillan Audio – Halo: Cryptum by Greg Bear

June 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Recent Arrivals 

SFFaudio Recent Arrivals

Macmillan AudioThe first book, of a planned trilogy, called the “Forerunner Saga.” The Halo wiki has a quote from Frank O’Connor (the Franchise Development Director for Halo) saying:

“It’s going to be a trilogy. A connected universe that will remain faithful to the scale and mysteries, while exploring the detail and challenges of a VERY powerful culture. This won’t be some skirt-raising exercise in Forerunner populist-ism. Folks know way more about Forerunners than you think, but we’re definitely going to respect that strange sense of wonder and awe that Bungie infused from day one. It will be BIG Greg Bear fiction in a faintly familiar place, but one that’s full of surprises. Think Eon.”

The audiobook also includes a three and a half minute introduction, written and read, by Greg Bear himself. In it he says that he drew inspiration for the trilogy from Olaf Stapledon, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, E.E. Doc Smith, Larry Niven and Robert A. Heinlein. There’s also a sentence particularly about Ringworld.

Macmillian Audio - Halo: Cryptum by Greg BearHalo: Cryptum (Book One of the Forerunner Saga)
By Greg Bear; Read by Holter Graham
7 CDs – Approx. 8 Hours 40 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Published: March 29, 2011
ISBN: 9781427210081
One hundred thousand years ago, the galaxy was populated by a great variety of beings. But one species–eons beyond all others in both technology and knowledge–achieved dominance. They ruled in peace but met opposition with quick and brutal effectiveness. They were the Forerunners–the keepers of the Mantle, the next stage of life in the Universe’s Living Time. And then they vanished. This is their story. – Bornstellar Makes Eternal Lasting is a young rebellious Forerunner. He is a Manipular, untried–yet to become part of the adult Forerunner society, where vast knowledge and duty waits. He comes from a family of Builders, the Forerunners’ highest and most politically powerful rate. It is the Builders who create the grand technology that facilitates Forerunner dominance over the known universe. It is the Builders who believe they must shoulder the greatest burden of the Mantle–as shepherds and guardians of all life. Bornstellar is marked to become a great Builder just like his father. But this Manipular has other plans. He is obsessed with lost treasures of the past. His reckless passion to seek out the marvelous artifacts left behind by the Precursors–long-vanished superbeings of unknowable power and intent—forces his father’s hand. Bornstellar is sent to live among the Miners, where he must come to terms with where his duty truly lies. But powerful forces are at play. Forerunner society is at a major crux. Past threats are once again proving relentless. Dire solutions–machines and strategies never before contemplated–are being called up, and fissures in Forerunner power are leading to chaos. On a Lifeworker’s experimental planet, Bornstellar’s rebellious course crosses the paths of two humans, and the long lifeline of a great military leader, forever changing Bornstellar’s destiny …and the fate of the entire galaxy. This is a tale of life, death, intergalactic horror, exile, and maturity. It is a story of overwhelming change–and of human origins. For the Mantle may not lie upon the shoulders of Forerunners forever.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Free Listens Review of Firstborn by Brandon Sanderson

December 31, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

Review

“Firstborn” by Brandon Sanderson

Source: Tor.com (mp3)

Length: 1 hour, 13 minutes

ReaderBrandon Sanderson and Emily Sanderson

The story: If you keep up with fantasy literature, you probably know Brandon Sanderson from his own large fantasy novels, such as the excellent Mistborn, the juvenile fantasy Alcatraz series or as the writer called in from the bullpen to finish the late Robert Jordan’s sprawling Wheel of Time fantasy series. So for Sanderson to be writing space opera science fiction and a short story is two unusual situations at once. He’s so successful, at least in this story, that I wonder why he doesn’t write more short science fiction.

“Firstborn” is set in a galactic empire where space navies do battle with rebel forces, complete with space fighters dogfights. Dennison Crestmar, a young nobleman in the Imperial Navy, is struggling as an unsuccessful officer who is constantly compared to his older brother, the famed admiral Varion Crestmar, who has never lost a battle. The setting, plot, and characters seem ripe for a series of clichés, but somehow Sanderson crafts these parts into an engaging and inventive story.

Rating: 8/10

The reader: Sanderson, as he freely admits, is not a professional voice actor. He doesn’t have the richness of sound that the pros have and the recording quality has a bit of hiss. Yet, Sanderson is a very good amateur reader. He is expressive and seems to be enjoying reading his own work. When his wife checks in to read some of the middle portion of the story, she does an equally fine job. Although he does a good job here, I don’t think I’d like to see Sanderson narrate those fantasy novels he’s best known for; those things are long and I’d rather have him writing sequels than reading!

posted by Seth

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

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