StarShipSofa: Men of Greywater Station by George R. R. Martin and Howard Waldrop

June 6, 2015 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

StarShipSofaStarShipSofa No. 389 is a reading of Men of Greywater Station by George R. R. Martin and Howard Waldrop

The narrator is Nick Camm.

|MP3|

Podcast feed: http://www.starshipsofa.com/feed/

And here is Stephen E. Fabian’s illustration from the original publication in Amazing Stories, March 1976:
Men Of Greywater Station by George R.R. Martin and Howard Waldrop - illustrated by Stephen E. Fabian (from Amazing Stories, March 1976)

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Wild Cards edited by George R. R. Martin

July 31, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Wild Cards edited by George R. R. MartinWild Cards (Wild Cards #1)
Edited by George R. R. Martin; Read by Luke Daniels
19 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: November 2011
ISBN: 9781455833009
Themes: / alternate history / superpowers / alien virus / superhero / urban fantasy / science fiction / horror /

Publisher Summary:

In the aftermath of WWII, an alien virus struck the Earth, endowing a handful of survivors with extraordinary powers. Originally published in 1987, the newly expanded saga contains additional original stories by eminent writers.

The stories contained in the audiobook are:
“Prologue” by George R. R. Martin
“Thirty Minutes Over Broadway!” by Howard Waldrop
“The Sleeper” by Roger Zelazny
“Witness” by Walter Jon Williams
“Degradation Rites” by Melinda Snodgrass
“Captain Cathode and the Secret Ace” by Michael Cassutt
“Powers” by David D. Levine
“Shell Games” by George R. R. Martin
“The Long, Dark Night of Fortunato” by Lewis Shiner
“Transfigurations” by Victor Milán
“Down Deep” by Edward Bryant and Leanne C. Harper
“Strings” by Stephen Leigh
“Ghost Girl Takes Manhattan” by Carrie Vaughn
“Comes a Hunter” by John J. Miller

There are also a variety of “Interludes” in between the stories, which are short bits mostly written in the form of newspaper or magazine articles or first-hand witness accounts. These interludes are often used to bridge the narrative with real events from US history, to provide the reader with insight as to the feelings in this “alternate history” type world.

Generally, this is a story of the effects of an alien virus on humanity between the time shortly following World War II through the late 70’s/early 80’s. The virus was brought to earth by aliens from a planet called Takis. It was developed as a device to give Takisians superpowers to be used as a part of large-scale family wars on Takis. The aliens wanted to test it, so sought to release it on Earth, as humans are genetically very similar to Takisians. “Prologue” introduces us to an alien who is called (by the humans, as his name is not well-suited to human speech) Dr. Tachyon and the “Wild Cards” virus. Dr. Tachyon is also a Takisian, but tried to prevent the release of the virus on Earth. “Prologue” sets the scene and tone for the world of the book. It also provides an insight into Dr. Tachyon’s values: he doesn’t ask first for the President of the US, he instead asks for the top scientists and thinkers. This is an obvious nod by George R. R. Martin to those who have true powers in the US.

“Thirty Minutes Over Broadway!” tells the story of Jet Boy, an American superhero, and the release of the Wild Cards virus over Manhattan in September, 1946. Jet Boy is a true hero, an all-American kid who came back from fighting in World War II with a superhero story of his ace flying abilities. He is the only superhero in the book who wasn’t a superhero because of the virus, but because of his innate abilities and selflessness. In a theme that becomes common through the book, the reader is reminded that a hero is a hero because of what they do, not because of their skills. Jet Boy tries—and fails—to stop the virus from being released.

The virus is brutal. It only impacts humans, with no effects on other species. It kills most of its victims, but those who survive (only about a tenth of those exposed to the virus) are not left unscathed. Through the rest of the book, the reader is introduced to various people impacted by the virus. The first stories tell mainly of “Aces,” those who get super powers from the virus (usually in the form of telekinesis and/or greatly enhanced physical abilities. Later, the reader is introduced to the concept of “Jokers,” who become horribly deformed due to the virus. The first interlude presents the concept of “Deuces,” those who get an “ace-like” ability that is not particularly useful, like “Mr. Rainbow,” whose ability is to change the color of his skin.

The narrative takes the reader through time: each story is a snapshot of a period in US history and provides a sort of “alternate history” of how that time may have been different if there had been these Aces and Jokers were around. Some of the early stories, taking place during the era of HUAC and McCarthyism, show how the aces became subjects of witch hunts and were forced into service in the US military or intelligence agencies. Jokers are looked upon as second-class beings, a theme that plays a large role during the stories set in the 60’s and 70’s, mirroring the US Civil Rights Movement. Some of the stories are sad, such as “The Sleeper” and “Witness.” Some are a bit more uplifting and triumphant, such as “Shell Games.” A lot of the stories, especially the later ones, become a bit creepy, with people using their powers for selfish reasons, as in “Strings.”

All in all, Wild Cards serves as an interesting statement on humanity through the guise of a “what if” scenario. All of the stories are eminently believable—at no time did anything that happened seem overwhelmingly unlikely. To some extent, that’s a bit of a sad statement on humanity—as the book goes on, aces and jokers alike seem to be only interested in helping themselves, looking out for their own (often misguided) interests.

The narration, done by Luke Daniels, was pretty good in the audiobook. He had a good speed and good intonation for most of the characters, and it was easy to tell each character apart. As often happens with male narrators trying to do female voices, some of the females sounded whiny, but it wasn’t so over the top so as to be unlistenable. After listening to this narration, I’ll be keeping Luke Daniels on my radar when looking at audiobooks.

Personally, I preferred the stories in the first half of the book to those in the second half. In the second half, the stories got quite a bit darker, more creepy and violent. After the strong lead-in with the Prologue and “Thirty Minutes Over Broadway,” I quite enjoyed the origin stories and the weaving-in of events in US history. As the book progressed, the stories didn’t seem quite as engaging—for one, I actually repeatedly fell asleep while listening, and ended up having rewind and re-listen to some of the others. There was also one story that was too graphic both in terms of sex and violence for me, “The Long, Dark Night of Fortunato” by Lewis Shiner. By the end, I wasn’t interested in more stories of people serving their own interests. There are other books in the series, which I have heard are more like the stories at the end of the book—I’m not sure that they’ll be for me. But I enjoyed this anthology well enough and would recommend it to others interested in a cross of science fiction, general fiction, and horror genres.

Review by terpkristin

Recent Arrivals: Warriors (Volume 2) edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois

May 30, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Recent Arrivals 

SFFaudio Recent Arrivals

Brilliance Audio sent us this audiobook: Warriors 2 (aka Warriors Volume 2) edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois – 9 CDs, 10 Hours 45 Minutes, UNABRIDGED.

This audiobook is titled Warriors 2 on the box, and titled Warriors: Volume 2 in the narration. Either way it’s a collection of seven novelettes, novellas and short stories. The readers are Patrick Lawlor and Christina Traister.

Brilliance Audio - Warriors 2 edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois

It’d be hard to tell which stories are included in the collection from a quick look at the packaging, but they are there, buried in the miniature copyright text at the bottom left of the back:

Brilliance Audio - Warriors 2 (BACK) edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois

And, as is all too typical with audiobook releases of collections, once yopu’ve opened it up the discs themselves don’t help either – none of them say anything about which story can be found on which disc. Which is where your friendly neighbourhood SFFaudio comes in…

Disc 1:
Track 2: Introduction: Stories From The Spinner Rack by George R.R. Martin – Read by Patrick Lawlor
Track 4: Seven Years From Home by Naomi Novik – Read by Christina Traister

Disc 2:
Track 7: Dirae by Peter S. Beagle – Read by Christina Traister

Disc 3:
Track 5: Ancient Ways by S.M. Stirling – Read by Patrick Lawlor

Disc 4:
Track 7: The Scroll by David Ball – Read by Patrick Lawlor

Disc 5:
Track 8: Recidivist by Gardner Dozois – Read by Patrick Lawlor

Disc 6:
Track 3: Ninieslando by Howard Waldrop – Read by Patrick Lawlor
Track 12: Out Of The Dark by David Weber – Read by Patrick Lawlor

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #056 – READALONG: The Status Civilization by Robert Sheckley

April 26, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #056 – Jesse and Scott talk with Rick Jackson, Gregg Margarite, Jerry Stearns and Julie Davis about Robert Sheckley’s The Status Civilization!

Talked about on today’s show:
Wonder Publishing Group (Wonder Audio and Wonder Ebooks), LibriVox.org, Acoustic Pulp, Sound Affects, Great Northern Audio Theatre, Doctor Who, The Prisoner, Riverworld by Philip Jose Farmer, deep Science Fiction, Deathworld by Harry Harrison, The Space Merchants (aka Gravy Planet) by Frederik Pohl and Cyril M. Kornbluth, Preferred Risk by Frederik Pohl and Lester del Rey, Gladiator At Law by Frederik Pohl and Cyril M. Kornbluth, Anarchaos by Donald E. Westlake, a religion based on evil, satire, Friedrich Nietzsche‘s “master-slave morality,” good and evil, David Hume‘, the naturalistic fallacy, cognitive dissonance, original sin (aka atavistic guilt), Skulking Permit by Robert Sheckley, Breaking Point by James Gunn |READ OUR REVIEW|, psychology, society, robots, This Perfect Day by Ira Levin, utopia, dystopia, libertarianism, rebellion, “a benign evil,” narrating audiobooks, Mark Douglas Nelson, This Crowded Earth by Robert Bloch, Deathworld 2 by Harry Harrison, Watchbird by Robert Sheckley, Second Variety by Philip K. Dick, Tunnel Under The World by Frederik Pohl, Bellona Times, X-Minus One, Mark Time , Yuri Rasovsky, Raymond Z. Gallun, Bing, Seeing Ear Theatre, Orson And The Alien, The SFFaudio Challenge, turning modern public domain books into audio drama, Night Of The Cooters by Howard Waldrop, Jack J. Ward, The Sonic Society, Brian Price, Alfred Bester‘s review of The Status Civilization (from The Magazine Of Fantasy And Science Fiction, December 1960), the naming of “Tetrahyde”, a readalong on The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester, the “amazing” audio drama version from BBC Tiger Tiger, The Count Of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, Frederik Pohl’s review of The Status Civilization (from January 1961 issue of Worlds Of If), the competition between the LibriVox and the commercial versions of audiobooks, Plato’s Cave, precognition, John W. Campbell, skrenning, scrying, Icelandic cook books!

The Status Civilzation (Planet Of The Criminals) GERMAN INTERIOR
The Status Civilzation (Planet Of The Criminals) GERMAN INTERIOR
The Status Civilzation (Planet Of The Criminals) GERMAN INTERIOR
The Status Civilization (Planet Of The Criminals) GERMAN INTERIOR
The Status Civilization (Planet Of The Criminals) GERMAN INTERIOR
The Status Civilization by Robert Sheckley
Signet - The Status Civilization by Robert Sheckley

Posted by Jesse Willis

Commentary: The problem of Poe’s Pym

March 25, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Commentary 

SFFaudio Commentary

LibriVoxEdgar Allan Poe’s only novel The Narrative Of Arthur Gordon Pym was published in 1838. The unabridged audiobook is available commercially, but the LibriVox version has been stalled at 85% completion for too long. This multi-reader project has been in production for more than a year, and I’m eager to see it completed. I believe it is a crucial work of early Speculative Fiction. It was an influence on H. P. Lovecraft, and his At The Mountains Of Madness and even Steven Utley and Howard Waldrop’s 1977 Black As The Pit, From Pole to Pole is similarly descended from Pym.

The Narrative Of Arthur Gordon Pym is crucial, not the least because I think a lot of us would like to hear some other related novels that were inspired to follow after it! For myself, one in particular stands out I’ve been hankering to hear is Jules Vernes’ The Sphinx Of The Ice Fields (AKA An Antarctic Mystery). This was Verne’s 1897 sequel to Poe’s Pym. I originally ran across this novel in relation to my fascination with sub-antarctic islands. One day, a few weeks back, I was doing my usual zoom and pan lunchtime tourism on Google Maps. That particular afternoon I spotted a cool little island called Île de la Possession (46°24′S 51°46′E), one of the extremely remote Îles Crozet,which is in a chain of tiny sub-antarctic islands owned by France. This one was particularly interesting looking as it was both volcanic and ice-free. There also happened to be a cool research station visible on the far East side of the island. In cross referencing the island with the images I was seeing on Google Maps I also spotted that they’d named its northern-most mountain “Monts Jules Verne!” It also has a rivers named “Moby Dick” and “Styx.” Now hearing all this you might think this is a real-life version of Vernes’ Mysterious Island, but in fact it has nothing to do with that novel’s made-up island, instead this very real island actually appears in Verne’s sequel to Pym, the novel The Sphinx Of The Ice Fields!

Îles Crozet

Now back to the business…. If you’re even half as excited about seeing the great lineage of Pym turned into audiobooks, please consider volunteering your voice to the project. There are only 4 chapters still unassigned and the majority of the other chapters are already completed.

One last thing, call it more inspiration: For an astoundingly-cool bibliography of Antarctic related fiction (from 1605 to the present day) have a look at Fauno Cordes’ “Tekeli-li” or Hollow Earth Lives: A Bibliography of Antarctic Fiction.

The Time Traveler Show #13 The Night He Cried by Fritz Leiber PLUS MORE!

February 19, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Podcast - The Time Traveler ShowThe Time Traveler Show podcast #13 is out today. Along with the customary unabridged classic Science Fiction story (this one by none other than Fritz Leiber) the also show includes snippets from The Time Traveler’s recent visit to the ConFusion 2007 Science Fiction convention. While there TT recorded panels consisting of: John Scalzi, Karl Schroeder, Steven Harper Piziks, Toby Buckell, Tor editor Jim Frenkel, Elizabeth Moon, Howard Waldrop, Karl Schroeder, and Jim C. Hines!

You can also listen to the complete files for each panel on The Time Traveler’s site.

The Night He Cried
By Fritz Leiber; Read by Clarissa der Nederlanden
1 MP3 – [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: The Time Traveler Show
Podcast: February 19th 2007

Attentive listeners should recognize the narrator of this story as Flying Squirrel from The Red Panda Adventures Audio Drama podcast!

To read the complete show notes for podcast #13 click HERE or download the show MP3 directly by clicking HERE. Alternatively, automatically downloading can be ensured by plugging this podcast feed into your podcatcher:

http://www.timetravelershow.com/shows/feed.xml