The SFFaudio Podcast #088

December 27, 2010 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Audio Drama, New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #088 – Scott and Jesse talk about audiobooks, the recent arrivals and the new releases.

Talked about on today’s show:
Why was Scott gone?, Scott fought off a zombie apocalypse, an angry letter to Santa, Last Call by Tim Powers, Subterranean Press, On Stranger Tides, Bronson Pinchot, “gritty magic realism”, Scott likes lists, top 10 best horror novels, Ghost Story, The Stand, divinationary tarot cards, The Fisher King, “blended weirdness”, StarStruck, The Audio Comics Company, Starstruck’s Wikipedia entry, William Dufris, Simon Vance, Portland (Maine), Simon Vance’s YouTube, Infinivox, Starship Vectors, Stephen Baxter, Elizabeth Bear, Sarah Monette, Charles Coleman Findlay, Gwenyth Jones, Nancy Kress, Robert Reed, “spacey Science Fiction is very refreshing”, BoingBoing’s “The Beginning Of The End Of A Trend” post – is the death of Paranormal Romance approaching?, Brilliance Audio, The God Engines by John Scalzi, The Geek’s Guide To The Galaxy podcast, The Android’s Dream (as read by Wil Wheaton), Audible.com, Debt Of Bones by Terry Goodkind, the Legends anthology, Frank Muller, The Hedge Knight by George R.R. Martin, The Hedge Knight II, Legends II, Dreamsongs, Pump Six And Other Stories by Paulo Bacigalupi, The Fluted Girl, biopunk, Lord Of The Changing Winds: The Griffin Mage Book One by Rachel Neumeier, epic fantasy, Griffins, hard-boiled YA?, noir YA?, The Stainless Steel Rat Wants You by Harry Harrison, Gregg Margarite, the Stainless Steel rat is wry and slick and rascally, well written candy, West Of Eden, prehistorical Science Fiction, alternate history, Catalyst by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, barking cats?, Scott is a cat person, Parasite Rex by Carl Zimmer, “Mood-altering cat parasites make women friendly and men into jerks”, fantasy, The Runelords: Book Four: The Lair Of Bones by David Farland, Shadowheart by Tad Williams, Dick Hill, The Habitation Of The Blessed by Catherynne M. Valente, Prester John, immortality, She: Who Must Be Obeyed by H. Rider Haggard, “the literal tree of knowledge”, A Dirge For Prester John, Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry, “the fate of the world is always hanging in the balance” ,The Walking Dead TV vs. The Walking Dead comic, “a zombie movie that never ends”, Robert Kirkman‘s plan, reading contest, Robert Kirkman’s Invincible, upcoming readalongs: Gulliver’s Travels and Oath Of Fealty, Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank, On The Beach by Nevil Shute, Wil Patton, Neon Rain by James Lee Burke, Heart Of Darkness, Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack The Ripper, Time For The Stars, Will Patton, Richard Matheson, Somewhere In Time, Ross Macdonald, The New Adventures Of Mike Hammer, Stacey Keach, Max Allan Collins, SS-GB by Len Deighton, Fatherland, Eric S. Rabkin, “I don’t want to say I like Nazis”.

Posted by Jesse Willis

9 interesting paperbooks (should they be audiobooks?)

December 26, 2010 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Commentary 

SFFaudio Commentary

There are a ton of cool looking paperbooks in the bookstores these days. Here are 9 paperbooks, that I spotted at Chapters. None of these are available as audiobooks – at least not yet. Should they be? Here’s my take.

#1 – SS-GB by Len Deighton. This was an audiobook, long ago, but it is currently out of print in audio. I have high hopes it will be re-audiobooked sometime in 2011. And I’ll do my darnedest to make it happen.

SS-GB by Len Deighton

#2 – I’m always in favour of audiobooking a paperbook containing both a Donald E. Westlake and a Lawrence Block story. This one would probably have to wait until next November to be a viable audiobook.

Christmas At The Mysterious Bookshop edited by Otto Penzler

#3 – Best American Noir Century, edited by James Ellroy and Otto Penzler. What a crazy title! Though I should point out that in the fine print it reads “The Best American Noir of the Century” – This sounds like it would be a very good listen! With stories by Jim Thompson, James M. Cain and more than a dozen others it ought to have a good dispersionary impact. Reading a best of anthology can also give a quick taste of many authors – which leads to a lot more listening. Sadly, most of the stories actually in it are from the end of the 20th century and some of the one’s I recognize aren’t very noir.* – SEE THE COMMENTS

Best American Noir Century edited by James Ellroy and Otto Penzler

#4 – He Is Legend: An Anthology Celebrating Richard Matheson – Assuming that such a collection is a good idea to begin with (we have a similar one for Jack Vance) – this is a natural to turn audiobook – it does everything that a regular themed anthology does, but it does it with a guy instead of an idea. Opinions?

He Is Legend: An Anthology Celebrating Richard Matheson

#5 – The Sherlockian by Graham Moore – minimalist cover art rarely works for me. This one totally does. Skimming the back of the book, it sounded rather awesome too!

The Sherlockian by Graham Moore

#6 – Subtitled “A Medieval Noir” this novel, Jeri Westerson’s Veil Of Lies, might be a more dank and dangerous answer to the cozy Brother Cadfael books. Plus I dig the dude with the dagger.

Veil Of Lies: A Medieval Noir by Jeri Westerson

#7 – And if the first book in the series is audiobook-worthy, why not the second too? Maybe we ought to see how the first goes?

Serpent In The Thorns: A Medieval Noir by Jeri Westerson

#8 – Doing the public domain shuffle this book plucks several of my interests! What Alice Knew: A Most Curious Tale Of Henry James And Jack The Ripper by Paula Marantz Cohen – And check out that gorgeous cover!

What Alice Knew - A Most Curious Tale Of Henry James And Jack The Ripper by Paula Marantz Cohen

#9 – Now this one takes the PD mash-up meme just one step too far for me. Adding zombies to The War Of The Worlds? Really? Martians and zombies? The only reason H.G. Wells isn’t turning over in his grave is because he wouldn’t go zombie – ever! I do like the idea of more guts and blood though.

The War Of The Worlds Plus Blood Guts And Zombies by Eric S. Brown

Posted by Jesse Willis

New Releases: Heinlein, Moers, Powers, Matheson, Faye, Collins, Spillane, Swift, Frank, Conrad, Niven, Pournelle

December 25, 2010 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Audio Drama, New Releases 

New Releases

Here’s a wonderful batch of audiobooks that didn’t show up under an SFFaudio Xmas tree. Stupid Santa!

Winner of an AudioFile magazine “Earphones Award”, narrated by a “2010 AudioFile Best Voice winner” –

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - The Wycherly Woman by Ross MacdonaldThe Wycherly Woman: A Lew Archer Novel
By Ross Macdonald; Read by Grover Gardner
7 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – Approx. 8 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: January 2010
ISBN: 9781433278594 (cd), 9781433278624 (mp3-cd)
Phoebe Wycherly was missing two months before her wealthy father hired Lew Archer to find her. That was plenty of time for a young girl who wanted to disappear to do so thoroughly—or for someone to make her disappear. And before he could locate the Wycherly girl, Archer had to reckon with the Wycherly woman, Phoebe’s mother, an eerily unmaternal blonde who kept too many residences, had too many secrets, and left too many corpses in her wake.

Another title beloved of Audiofile magazine: Starring Stacy Keach as Mike Hammer!

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - The New Adventures Of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer Vol. 2  by Max Allan CollinsThe New Adventures Of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, Vol. 2: The Little Death
By Max Allan Collins; From a story by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins; Performed by a full supporting cast
2 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – Approx. 1.9 Hours [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: December 2009
ISBN: 9781441712585 (cd), 9781441712592 (mp3-cd)
Private eye Mike Hammer is no stranger to murder, but this time he has two to untangle: the killing of the Captain, a legless, homeless panhandler, dismissed by the police as “minor,” and the slaying of gambling kingpin Marty Wellman. Marty’s lady friend, Helen Venn, turns to the P.I. for help when the Mob fingers her for the next kill. Seems the new kingpin, Carmen Rich — with whom Hammer has a violent history — thinks Helen made off with ten mil in skim money courtesy of her late lover. But Mike Hammer knows a damsel in distress when he sees one and takes up Helen’s cause, igniting a series of hit attempts on his life by a small army of out-of-town shooters. Such minor distractions can’t prevent the toughest detective of them all from solving two murders and avenging a “little death” in a big way.

I liked the movie. Has anyone read the book?

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - Somewhere In Time by Richard MathesonSomewhere In Time
By Richard Matheson; Read by Scott Brick
9 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – Approx. 10.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: December 1, 2010
ISBN: 9781441722201 (cd), 9781441722218 (mp3-cd)
Written by one of the grand masters of modern fantasy, Somewhere In Time is the moving, romantic story of a modern man whose powerful love for a woman he has never met allows him to literally transcend time. A dying young playwright staying in a turn-of-the-century hotel becomes captivated by a painting of a beautiful stage actress from the previous century. Obsessed, he begins to study everything he can about the woman and her time and becomes convinced he belongs with her. Through self-hypnosis, he transports himself to 1896, where he finds the soul mate he was fated to meet. But will he be able to stay? Somewhere In Time won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel and was the basis for the 1980 cult classic movie starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour.

Is this an audiobook about playing poker with the devil? Nice!

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - Last Call by Tim PowersLast Call
By Tim Powers; Read by Bronson Pinchot
16 CDs or 2 MP3CDs – Approx. 19.1 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: December 1, 2010
ISBN: 9781441757364 (cd), 9781441757371 (mp3-cd)
Scott Crane abandoned his career as a professional poker player twenty years ago and hasn’t returned to Las Vegas, or held a hand of cards, in ten years. But troubling nightmares about a strange poker game he once attended on a houseboat on Lake Mead are drawing him back to the magical city. For the mythic game he believed he won did not end that night in 1969—and the price of his winnings was his soul. Now, a pot far more strange and perilous than he ever could imagine depends on the turning of a card. Enchantingly dark and compellingly real, this World Fantasy Award–winning novel is a masterpiece of magic realism set in the gritty, dazzling underworld known as Las Vegas.

Translated from the German…

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - Rumo And His Mircaculous Adventures by Walter MoersRumo & His Miraculous Adventures (A Novel in Two Books)
By Walter Moers; Translated by John Brownjohn; Read by Bronson Pinchot
19 CDs or 2 MP3-CDs – Approx. 22.8 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: December 1, 2010
ISBN: 9781441757982 (cd), 9781441758019 (mp3-cd)
Set in the land of Zamonia, this exuberant, highly original fantasy from Walter Moers features an unlikely hero. Rumo is a little Wolperting—a domesticated creature somewhere between a deer and a dog—who will one day become the greatest hero in the history of Zamonia. Armed with Dandelion, his talking sword, he fights his way through the Overworld and the Netherworld. He meets Rala, a beautiful Wolperting female; Urs of the Snows, who thinks more of cooking than of fighting; Gornab the Ninety-Ninth, the demented king of Netherworld; Professor Ostafan Kolibri, who goes in search of the Non-Existent Teenies; Professor Abdullah Nightingale, inventor of the chest-of-drawers oracle; and, worst luck, the deadly Metal Maiden. Astonishingly inventive, amusing, and engrossing, Rumo is a captivating story from the unique imagination of Walter Moers. Filled with humor, this novel puts a new spin on the usual epic fantasy. The comparisons are many—Douglas Adams, Lewis Carrol, J. K. Rowling, Dr. Seuss, and R. Crumb—but Moers is clearly an original. Long live Zamonia!

One of the Heinlein juvies that I read while in the UK. It, along with Starman’s Quest (by Robert Silverberg) have got to be directly inspired by the famous twin paradox thought experiment!

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - Time For The Stars by Robert A. HeinleinTime For The Stars
By Robert A. Heinlein; Read by Barrett Whitener
6 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – 6.8 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: December 10, 2010
ISBN: 9781433230462 (cd), 9781433230493 (mp3-cd)
Travel to other planets is now a reality, and with overpopulation stretching the resources of Earth, the necessity of finding habitable worlds is growing ever more urgent. There’s a problem though—because the spaceships are slower than light, any communication between the exploring ships and Earth would take years. Tom and Pat are identical twin teenagers. As twins they’ve always been close, so close that it seemed like they could read each other’s minds. When they are recruited by the Long Range Foundation, the twins find out that they can, indeed, peer into each other’s thoughts. Along with other telepathic duos, they are enlisted to be the human transmitters and receivers that will keep the ships in contact with Earth. But there’s a catch: one of the twins has to stay behind—and that one will grow old—while the other explores the depths of space and returns as a young man still.

Hasn’t this been done like four or five times before? Or maybe I just dream’t that?

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - Dust And Shadow - An Account Of The Ripper Killings By Dr John H. WatsonDust And Shadow (An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson)
By Lyndsay Faye; Read by Simon Vance
8 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – Approx. 9.3 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: December 10, 2010
ISBN: 9781441768117 (cd), 9781441768131 (mp3-cd)
Breathless and painstakingly researched, this is a stunning debut mystery in which Sherlock Holmes unmasks Jack the Ripper. Lyndsay Faye perfectly captures all the color and syntax of Conan Doyle’s distinctive nineteenth-century London. In Dust and Shadow, Sherlock Holmes hunts down Jack the Ripper—the world’s first serial killer—with impeccably accurate historical detail and without the advantage of modern forensics or profiling. Sherlock’s desire to stop the killer who is terrifying the East End of London is unwavering from the start, and in an effort to do so he hires an “unfortunate” known as Mary Ann Monk, the friend of a fellow streetwalker who was one of the Ripper’s earliest victims. However, when Holmes himself is wounded in Whitechapel attempting to catch the villain, and a series of articles in the popular press question his role in the crimes, he must use all his resources in a desperate race to find the man known as “The Knife” before it is too late. Penned as a pastiche by the loyal and courageous Dr. Watson, this debut signals the arrival of a tremendous talent in the mystery and historical fiction genres.

The moral horror of colonialism as performed by Kenneth Branagh? Sign me up!

AUDIBLE - Heart Of Darkness by Kenneth BranaghHeart Of Darkness
By Joseph Conrad; Read by Kenneth Branagh
Audible Download – Approx. 3 Hours 51 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audible Signature Classics
Published: November 23, 2010
Prose that demands to be read aloud requires a special kind of narrator. For the Audible Signature Classics edition of Joseph Conrad’s atmospheric masterpiece, Heart of Darkness, we called upon four-time Academy Award nominee Kenneth Branagh. Branagh’s performance is riveting because he reads as though he’s telling a ghost story by a campfire, capturing the story’s sense of claustrophobia, while hinting at the storyteller Marlow’s own creeping madness. Heart of Darkness follows Captain Marlow into the colonial Congo where he searches for a mysterious ivory trader, Kurtz, and discovers an evil that will haunt him forever. With this landmark work, Conrad is credited with bringing the novel into the twentieth century; we think Branagh brings it into the twenty-first. Stay tuned for more one-of-a-kind performances from actors David Hyde Pierce, Leelee Sobieski, Tim Curry, and more, only from Audible Signature Classics.

This 1959 novel’s title is derived from a few lines in the Book of Revelation

AUDIBLE - Alas, Babylon by Pat FrankAlas, Babylon
By Pat Frank; Read by Will Patton
Audible Download – Approx. 11 Hours 14 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audible.com
Published: December 21, 2010
This true modern masterpiece is built around the two fateful words that make up the title and herald the end – “Alas, Babylon.” When a nuclear holocaust ravages the United States, a thousand years of civilization are stripped away overnight, and tens of millions of people are killed instantly. But for one small town in Florida, miraculously spared, the struggle is just beginning, as men and women of all backgrounds join together to confront the darkness. Will Patton’s narration paints this classic tale as an ominous picture of the terrible possibilities of the nuclear age.

This audiobook is the subject of an upcoming SFFaudio Readalong…

AUDIBLE - Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan SwiftGulliver’s Travels
By Jonathan Swift; Read by David Hyde Pierce
Audible Download – Approx. 9 Hours 52 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audible Signature Classics
Published: December 14, 2010
Four-time Emmy Award winner David Hyde Pierce is famous for playing the lovably self-important Dr. Niles Crane in the hit TV series Frasier. Now, he brings the same wit and charming arrogance to his Signature Classics performance of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. More than just a mock travel book and fabulous adventure, Gulliver’s Travels is a character study and social satire that skewers politics, science, religion, philosophy, and pretentiousness with a bite and resonance that remains as fresh today as the day it was published. Maybe that’s why it hasn’t been out of print in nearly 300 years. Set sail with David Hyde Pierce for a smart, fun, new Gulliver’s Travels experience that’s unlike any other. And stay tuned for more one-of-a-kind performances from actors Leelee Sobiesky, Casey Affleck, Tim Curry, and more, only from Audible Signature Classics.

And so is this one!

Audible Frontiers - Oath Of Fealty by Larry Niven and Jerry PournelleOath Of Fealty
By Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle; Read by Jeremy Johnson and Suzanne Toren
Audible Download – Approx. 10 Hours 15 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audible Frontiers
Published: June 22, 2010
In the near future, Los Angeles is an all but uninhabitable war zone, wracked by crime, violence, pollution and poverty. But above the blighted city, a Utopia has arisen: Todos Santos, a thousand-foot high single-structured city, designed to used state-of-the-art technology to create a completely human-friendly environment, offering its dwellers everything they could want in exchange for their oath of allegiance and their constant surveillance. But there are those who want to see the utopia destroyed, whose answer to tomorrow’s best and brightest hope is mindless violence. And they have just entered Todos Santos.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Darkside by Tom Becker

September 17, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Darkside by Tom BeckerDarkside
By Tom Becker; Read by Colin Moody
6 CDs – Approx. 6 Hours 12 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Bolinda Audio
Published: 2008
ISBN: 9781921415340
Themes: / Fantasy / Urban Fantasy / Crime / London / Werewolves / Vampires / Magic / Kidnapping / Evil / Jack The Ripper /
Your home’s been attacked. Your dad’s in an asylum. You’re running for your life. And there’s nowhere to hide.

You’ve stumbled on the city’s greatest secret: Darkside. Incredibly dangerous and unimaginably exciting. Darkside is ruled by Jack the Ripper’s children – a place where nightmares walk the streets. You think you’re in trouble now, but your problems have just begun…

I usually do a fair mount of research about the books I plan to read. Before I pick one up I’ve usually either heard an author interview, read a review, discussed it with people who’ve already read it, or at least got a recommendation from an author whose work I already respect. But I also know these techniques aren’t a very good way to branch out beyond what’s already familiar to me, and so, every so often I just pick up a book, almost at random, and start reading. That’s what I did with Darkside by Tom Becker.

Maybe one of the initial appeals of Darkside, other than the terrific cover, was that it was from a publisher whose audiobooks I’d never heard before. Bolinda Audio is from Australia. And because of that it’s doing things a little differently. First off, it’s narrators are Australian. And second, they’ve got a lot of authors in their catalogue that I’ve never heard of. That’s cool!

Darkside is an interesting tale in itself. In terms of plot, it kind of falls halfway between two Neil Gaiman novels: Neverwhere and The Graveyard Book. It features Jonathan Starling, an unremarkable misfit fourteen-year-old with an ailing father and a deceased mother. He lives in London and is mostly taken care of by a kindly neighbor woman. Other than her, he’s nearly friendless and spends most days skipping-out of school and hanging out at one of the city’s many libraries. His father, an avid book collector himself, suffers some sort of recurring full body paralysis and perhaps it’s related to some of the books he collects. One day, right out in the open on a London street Jonathan is nearly kidnapped by a seemingly invisible giant and a woman with fluorescent hair. He quickly learns that London isn’t going to be safe for him anymore and so his father sends him away. He is to flee, for his own safety, into the arms of a protector. Jonathan takes with him a knife and a bullet. The knife is for protection from the kidnappers, and the bullet is for protection against his would-be protector, a mysterious old friend of his father’s, a man named Carnegie. Plot ensues.

Where the novel falls short is in comparison to the two Neil Gaiman novels I mentioned earlier. A hidden city within London isn’t really new. And neither is a young kid being protected by a paranormal monster-man. More importantly, Becker doesn’t have anywhere near the mastery of English fiction that Gaiman has. But that’s really not a fair comparison. For my money very few living English authors can compare favorably with Neil Gaiman. Apparently Darkside was written when Becker was just 25! When Gaiman was 25 he hadn’t written a single novel, comic, nor even Don’t Panic, his wonderful biography of Douglas Adams. As a result I think Darkside can stand pretty proudly on its own. It’s quickly paced, pretty fun and most of all it’s got a story that keeps your attention all the way through. Good job new guy.

Narrator Colin Moody, a talent stage trained actor, has an Australian accent, except when performing the dialogue of the characters. When in character Moody cowls him reading with various Londoner regionalisms. There are many sinister sounding villains in this novel and he voices all of them extremely well. If you’re a voracious reader looking for swiftly plotted urban fantasy novel (for the juvenile set), and you’ve already read both Neverwhere |READ OUR REVIEW| and The Graveyard Book |READ OUR REVIEW| do check out Darkside. Series fans will also be pleased to hear that four more Darkside novels follow this one, and that Bolinda has the “audio sequel forthcoming.”

Posted by Jesse Willis