LibriVox: Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 009

March 26, 2009 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

LibriVoxWith 9 volumes of short stories now out there’s no doubt there’s a plethora of SF listening available over on I love these collections, they have a good variety and not too much repetition …. oh wait, I take that last part back. It’s the constant repetition that is impairing these collections. LibriVoxateers, please stop recording Kurt Vonnegut’s 2BR02B. Otherwise, keep up the great work!

Sounding good in this collection are Jerome Lawson’s reading of The Cosmic Express and the quick humor of Frederic Brown’s Earthmen Bearing Gifts. The standout though is Irving E. Cox’s Impact. It is a tale about a deserter from an interstellar trading ship who causes the ship’s captain no end of troubles. It’s a cool old story despite the wretchedly old-fashioned woman teacher character (she’s jealous, blackmailing and shrewish).

LibriVox - Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 009Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 009
By various; Read by various
10 Zipped MP3s or Podcast – Approx. 4 Hours 25 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: January 20th 2009
Science fiction (abbreviated SF or sci-fi with varying punctuation and case) is a broad genre of fiction that often involves sociological and technical speculations based on current or future science and technology. This is a reader-selected collection of short stories that entered the US public domain when their copyright was not renewed.

LibriVox - 2BR02B by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. 2BR02B
By Kurt Vonnegut; Read by smokemonkey
1 |MP3| – Approx. 17 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Previous FREE MP3 versions of this story are HERE, HERE, and HERE and HERE. You can stop recording this very mediocre story now people.

LibriVox Science Fiction - The Cosmic Express by Jack WilliamsonThe Cosmic Express
By Jack Williamson; Read by Jerome Lawsen
1 |MP3| – Approx. 26 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: January 20, 2009
Originally published in Amazing Stories in November 1930, later reprinted in the December 1961 Amazing Stories. Unfortunately this reading excludes the 1961 introduction to the tale by Sam Moskowitz. You can read that HERE.

The Day Time Stopped Moving
By Bradner Buckner; Read by Tom Weiss
1 |MP3| – Approx. 43 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

LIBRIVOX Science Fiction - Earthmen Bearing Gifts by Frederic BrownEarthmen Bearing Gifts
By Fredric Brown; Read by Alan Winterrowd
1 |MP3| – Approx. 6 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: January 20, 2009
First published in the June 1960 issue of Galaxy magazine. “Mars had gifts to offer and Earth had much in return—if delivery could be arranged!” Another reading is available HERE.

LibriVox Science Fiction - Impact by Irving E. CoxImpact
By Irving E. Cox; Read by Tom Weiss
1 |MP3| – Approx. 54 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: January 20, 2009
From Amazing Science Fiction Stories, January 1960. They were languorous, anarchic, shameless in their pleasures . . . were they lower than man . . . or higher?

By Therese Windser; Read by Betsie Bush
1 |MP3| – Approx. 4 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
From Amazing Science Fiction Stories May 1960. A morality tale—1960 style.

LibriVox Science Fiction Short Story - The Measure Of A Man by Randall Garrett The Measure of a Man
By Randall Garrett; Read by Barbara King Gardner
1 |MP3| – Approx. 25 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: January 20, 2009
From April 1960 Astounding Science Fiction magazine. “What is desirable is not always necessary, while that which is necessary may be most undesirable. Perhaps the measure of a man is the ability to tell one from the other … and act on it.” Another version is available HERE.

LibriVox Science Fiction - No Moving Parts by Murray F. YacoNo Moving Parts
By Murray F. Yaco; Read by Tom Weiss
1 |MP3| – Approx. 45 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: January 20th 2009
From Amazing Stories May 1960. We call them trouble-shooters. They called ’em Gypsies. Either way, they were hep to that whole bit about….

LibriVox Science Fiction - The Nothing Equation by Tom GodwinThe Nothing Equation
By Tom Godwin; Read by Daniele F.
1 |MP3| – Approx. 22 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: January 20th 2009
From Amazing Stories December 1957. The space ships were miracles of power and precision; the men who manned them, rich in endurance and courage. Every detail had been checked and double checked; every detail except—

LibriVox Science Fiction - The Stoker And The Stars by Algis BudrysThe Stoker and the Stars
By Algis Budrys; Read by Jason Mills
1 |MP3| – Approx. 25 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: January 20th 2009
From Astounding Science Fiction February 1959. When you’ve had your ears pinned back in a bowknot, it’s sometimes hard to remember that an intelligent people has no respect for a whipped enemy … but does for a fairly beaten enemy.

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Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Thinner by Stephen King

March 20, 2009 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Audio Drama, Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Thinner by Stephen KingThinner
By Stephen King; Read by Joe Mantegna
9 CDs – 10 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Published: 2009 (reissue from 1984)
ISBN: 9780143143901
Themes: / Fantasy / Horror / Gypsies / Curses / Magic /

I put off reading Stephen King’s Thinner for the better part of two decades. The dust jacket description—lawyer runs down gypsy and is cursed to become, well, thinner—seemed like a decent short story stretched out into a novel. The premise just didn’t grab me.

As it turns out, my fears proved ill-founded. Thinner is an entertaining little novel that is, at its heart, about big concepts, including guilt, the dangers of not accepting responsibility for one’s actions, and the ruinous, generation-spanning cycle of destruction wrought by revenge. Thinner is positively short by King standards (about 300 pages), moves quickly, and contains a couple nasty little shocks that keep you on your toes and leave you feeling unsettled.

I’ve stated before that Stephen King was, in his early career, batting very nearly 1.000 as a writer. If you take a look at his work from 1973’s Carrie through 1987’s Misery and The Eyes of the Dragon, King was consistently great. I submit that The Tommyknockers (1988), written at the height of his drug and alcohol problems, was the first true misstep in King’s career. Now that I’ve finally read Thinner (released in 1984), I find that my rule holds true. It’s a fine book from King’s classic period.

Thinner tells the story of Billy Halleck, an overweight lawyer who gets distracted while driving home (his wife is giving him a handjob) and accidentally runs down an old gypsy woman crossing the street. Halleck avoids what should have a manslaughter conviction because the judge is an old golfing buddy and lets him off the hook. But Halleck can’t escape the scales of justice. The ancient father of Halleck’s victim curses Halleck by laying a scaly finger upon him and uttering the single word, “thinner.”

In the coming weeks, Halleck’s weight begins to drop alarmingly. When the doctors rule out cancer, Halleck realizes that the gypsy’s curse has taken root. The rest of the novel features Halleck chasing down the gypsies to get the curse lifted as his weight plunges from a high of 252 pounds to half that.

King has the problem of trying to convince the reader that a steadily weakening lawyer from a wealthy Connecticut suburb is capable of exerting enough pressure on a stubborn gypsy clan to lift the curse. He neatly sidesteps this problem by introducing the character of Richie “The Hammer” Ginelli, a minor mafia boss and a former client of Halleck’s. Ginelli assists Halleck by lending his unique and persuasive “services” learned in the hard-knock school of organized crime.

There’s a lot to recommend in Thinner. Taduz Lemke, the old gypsy with the power to curse, is a wonderful character, an ancient soul (over 100 years old) from the old world, the last of the Magyar chiefs. Although he’s initially unlikeable, King renders Lemke and the rest of his gypsy clan sympathetic. Though they are dirty and uneducated, and routinely skirt (and cross) the boundaries of the law, the gypsies are treated with open hostility from the hypocritical communities that they visit. Men like Halleck view the gypsies as an unwelcome disease in their safe and pure suburban communities, which are actually corrupt at the core with their unequal systems of justice, “old boy” networks, and inherent prejudices. When Halleck claims that Lemke’s daughter is equally at fault for the accident, since she didn’t look before crossing the street, he shows his unwillingness to accept responsibility for his own actions. Worse, Halleck took advantage of an unfair system of justice and never had to pay for his (and his wife’s) carelessness. Lemke’s curse is a painful lesson in admitting one’s guilt: “There is no push, white man from town,” Lemke says, again and again throughout the story. “No push.”

If you’re a Generation X-er you’ll appreciate the 1980’s time machine that is Thinner. In it you’ll find references to Apples and TRS-80s, Thunderbirds and Novas. Halleck’s family physician casually blows cocaine during a checkup and it doesn’t seem out of place here, given the period. Halleck’s daughter is mentioned as playing a year long game of Dungeons and Dragons.

Thinner contains very little horror until the end and is more accurately classified as a thriller, which may be why King adopted his (unsuccessful) pseudonym Richard Bachman during the book’s initial release. In Thinner, King was attempting something a bit outside his reputation as a horror author.

Veteran actor Joe Mantegna provides the narration for Thinner and he is magnificent, particularly in his portrayal of Ginelli (no surprise here, given that Mantegna has appeared in various gangster films). I’ve previously railed against the inclusion of music in audio books, but this version by Penguin makes excellent use of it, in particular its use of a chilling, off-putting theme whenever the gypsies—or Halleck’s alarmingly plunging weight—are mentioned.

Posted by Brian Murphy