LibriVox: The Cats Of Ulthar by H.P. Lovecraft

June 12, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

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The Cats Of Ulthar by H.P. Lovecraft

Hannes Bok illustration for The Cats Of Ulthar by H.P. Lovecraft

Hannes Bok illustration for The Cats Of Ulthar by H.P. Lovecraft

First published in Tryout, November 1920, The Cats Of Ulthar is an unusual tale by H.P. Lovecraft. It reads more like an old fashioned fairy tale than any other I’ve read. The story features a young boy named Menes who loves cats. Lovecraft probably took that name from the writings of a Greek historian named Diodorus Siculus who related a tale of a legendary Egyptian pharaoh named Menes that he heard from some crocodile-god priests. Menes it was said fled from his own dogs, who attacked him, while hinting. His escape was assisted by a crocodile. But no dogs or crocodiles are mentioned in The Cats Of Ulthar.

LibriVoxThe Cats Of Ulthar
By H.P. Lovecraft; Read by James Pontolillo
1 |MP3| – Approx. 9 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: October 19, 2008
|ETEXT|
First published in Tryout, November 1920.

And here’s a |PDF| made from the publication in Fantastic Novels, January 1951.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Unincorporated Man by Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin

February 5, 2010 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

TANTOR MEDIA - The Unincorporated Man by Dani Kollin and Eytan KollinThe Unincorporated Man
By Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin; Read by Todd McLaren
2 MP3-CDs – Approx. 24 Hours 30 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Media
Published: May 2009
ISBN: 9781400161720
Themes: / Science Fiction / Utopia / Dystopia / Time Travel / Slavery / Economics / Business / Cryonics / Immortality / Virtual Reality / Philosophy / Law / Alaska / Colorado / Los Angeles / Switzerland / Nanotechnology / Space Elevator /

The Unincorporated Man is a provocative social/political/economic novel that takes place in the future, after civilization has fallen into complete economic collapse. This reborn civilization is one in which every individual is incorporated at birth and spends many years trying to attain control over his or her own life by getting a majority of his or her own shares. Life extension has made life very long indeed. Now the incredible has happened: a billionaire businessman from our time, frozen in secret in the early twenty-first century, is discovered and resurrected, given health and a vigorous younger body. Justin Cord is the only unincorporated man in the world, a true stranger in this strange land. Justin survived because he is tough and smart. He cannot accept only part ownership of himself, even if that places him in conflict with a civilization that extends outside the solar system to the Oort Cloud. People will be arguing about this novel and this world for decades.

Even though I had never heard of the authors I like this book right from the start. The title reminded me of a Philip K. Dick novel called The Unteleported Man. There are probably a whole bunch of SF books following the formula “The (negative attribution) Man”, with The Invisible Man perhaps being the first of them. But there’s a lot more to like about this novel than the title alone. Among the pleasures it brings is good, old-fashioned idea based SF. It has been quite a while since I was so intellectually engaged by a novel’s central premise. And The Unincorporated Man has one. Set on a future Earth The Unincorporated Man is fundamentally different in both tone and scope than most SF novels I’ve read recently. Authors Dani and Eytan Kollin have envisioned a future in which the institution known as “the corporation” has replaced the convention of “person.” When born each child has stock of 1000 shares issued in his or her name. 10 percent of these stocks are held by each parent, the government gets another 5 percent and the rest is held in trust until the age of majority after which the balance of the stock is given to the child-cum-adult. He or she can then sell, or keep his or her stocks as they so desire. Holding a majority of your own stock insures relative autonomy (based on the amount above 50% you hold). The primary difficulty comes when you realize that you’ll need to invest in yourself. If you want an education you’ll need to pay for it. But without an education the pay won’t be much. So, you can either get education money by working at a low-wage job, and deriving whatever profit percentage your current stock level allows, or by selling your stock off for cash. This typically manifests itself in the majority of humanity not owning majority in themselves. With the possibility of living for centuries, thanks to the ubiquitous nanotechnology, you’d be wise to invest in an education. But in so doing you’ll loose control of your majority, and thus perhaps have to work at jobs that your shareholders choose, take vacations when your shareholders agree and generally have your life dictated to you by those that hold your stock. Why not just take the money and loaf? Who cares what the shareholders say? They can’t make you work can they? Well, yes they can. The corporate system is enforced by a forced mental audit that is applicable whenever shareholders think a corporation, who they hold stock in, is committing malfeasance (shirking their job, deliberately getting fired, etc.). Every corporation is trackable, thanks to GPS-like implants, and is thus ultimately accountable to his or her shareholders. It is the ultimate invasive tyranny, a slavery to the bottom line, a profit motive enforced by an invisible hand that you shook a deal with.

But things aren’t all doom and gloom. Those who are lucky enough to have been born with enough money, drive, intelligence, talent or beauty are able to do pretty much whatever they like with their time – that is assuming they don’t loose too much of their stock in luxuries or in judgments rendered against them in civil lawsuits. You can live like a king, wear any kind of clothing you like, read the newsies and travel the world in an endless party. But, as the centuries have rolled past it seems that fewer and fewer people have found it fashionable (or is the correct word possible?) to retain or even re-seek their majority stock. After all, in their nanotechnological society material abundance sees that no-one starves, no-one remains un-housed. Freedom, it seems, is just out of fashion. Enter Justin Cord and his unincorporated status.

I really liked this novel, but it isn’t without a few caveats. I found the fascinating society portrayed to be the most interesting thing about The Unincorporated Man. The characters are all pretty stiff and the problems facing Jason Cord, our hero, were far less interesting than they were useful in exploring this strange new society. Like many novels I review this one suffers most greatly from excessive page count. At 480 pages the novel takes 24.5 hours to listen to. I’d have preferred the novel with a steadier editorial hand. The editor could have done two relatively easy things. First he or she could have cut out a lot of the filler. I’m not just talking about empty sentences, there are many scenes that could have been eliminated or described in just a sentence or two. There are, for instance, two big court cases in this nove. Would it have been impossible to tell this story in one? Second, there was a useless detour along the way. I enjoyed it, but don’t see any reason it was needed in this novel. It could have been easily explored separately, in another novel. Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin wanted to talk about the relatively unexplored idea, a social scourge in the form of really vivid virtual reality. Larry Niven did something similar with his idea of the “tasp,” but that wasn’t exactly VR. If you could live your whole life in an artificial reality that was extremely cheap why wouldn’t you? The answer, cooked up by Kollins, is less persuasive than I’d have hoped. And again it doesn’t really need to be in this particular novel. They foresee a coming global catastrophe created not by ecological destruction, but rather by an addictive technological neuropathology. That’s great, but like I said it doesn’t need to be in this novel. When a false reality is far more enjoyable than a real one why should we care about the real one? Good question. Just don’t ask it here.

Narrator Todd McLaren, who I first encountered in Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon |READ OUR REVIEW|, is very talented. He mispronounce one or two words. “Concomitant.” being one of them. McLaren isn’t called to do many accents here, but he gives voice to a fairly large cast of characters. There are also several scenes in which he is required to portray a man giving impassioned speeches to crowds. These don’t sound like shouts, thankfully, but instead give the impression of a strained voice, speaking so as to be heard.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper

May 18, 2009 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Reviews, SFFaudio essential 

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audiobooks - Little Fuzzy by H. Beam PiperSFFaudio EssentialLittle Fuzzy
By H. Beam Piper; Read by Brian Holsopple
5 CDs – 5 Hours 53 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audio Realms
Published: November 2006
ISBN: 9781897304617
Themes: / Science Fiction / Planetary Colonization / Sapience / Law / Mining /

The chartered Zarathustra Company had it all their way. Their charter was for a Class III uninhabited planet, which Zarathustra was, and it meant they owned the planet lock stock and barrel. They exploited it, developed it, and reaped the huge profits from it without interference from the Colonial Government. Then Jack Holloway, a sunstone prospector, appeared on the scene with his family of Fuzzies and the passionate conviction that they were not cute animals but little people…

Little Fuzzy is a novel cherished by a smallish but passionate group of admirers. They seem to love it for its portrayal of the fuzzies themselves. It may be a “furry fandom” book too (but I’m a little afraid to do the research on that). I myself hadn’t heard of the novel, or much of the author, H. Beam Piper, until Little Fuzzy and pretty much everything else written by H. Beam Piper began being posted to Project Gutenberg.

My initial sense of the book was that Little Fuzzy would act as a lens through which historical colonizations could be examined – something like what was done in Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Word For World Is Forest. But it didn’t work out that way. Piper was not trying to explore historical events as much as what we mean by the word “sapience.” The verdict on the Fuzzies is obvious from the begining, but curiously enough the Fuzzies are still somewhat treated like children even by their human champions. Perhaps this was the only way Piper could easily characterize the right minded human’s benevolence? I wish he were alive so I could ask him about this. For the infantilization of the Fuzzies parallels some attitudes towards the aboriginal peoples facing colonization here on Earth. But like I said, the general focus is on a philosophical examination of the concept of sapience – not colonization.

After some initial trepidation I found myself hanging on the every word of this WONDERFUL audiobook. H. Beam Piper is an amazing storyteller. His homespun folksiness allows him to make grammatically wrong choices, but none that ever misconstrues his intended meaning. For example:

“He dropped into a chair and lit a cigarette. It tasted badly, and after a few puffs he crushed it out.”

I think Grammar Girl would have a problem with this noting that ‘cigarettes don’t have tongues so they can’t taste well or badly’ – despite this, I think Piper’s Little Fuzzy is some of the most transparent and plainspoken prose that I’ve ever read. Narrator Brian Holsopple doesn’t have a vast range with which to pitch his voice, but he subtly manages to give accent and attitude to every character. His voicing of the entire fuzzy vocabulary (just the one word: “yeek”) is nearly as broad – giving curiosity, understanding, determination and suggestion to every yeek in the book. There was a small editing gaffe on disc 3, a repeated line, and another similar one on disc 5 but otherwise the production was perfect.

Posted by Jesse Willis

LibriVox: Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 008 by Alan E. Nourse

October 26, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
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LibriVoxSingle author short story collections from LibriVox! This is a new trend, if we count that Lovecraft Collection from late last week. Volume 8 in the LibriVox Short SF collections series is all Alan E. Nourse. Some of these stories were previously recorded, by other narrators, but most are new to audio. Here’s a mini-review/rundown on the extremely varied narrations:

Daniele F.’s readings are heavily accented (Italian?) but well recorded. James Christopher’s entry is quiet, maybe he’s a little too far away from his mic (or maybe his mic just isn’t great). Mooseboy Alfonzo is quiet too. Actually he’s sounding muffled, perhaps his pop-filter is just a big old sweater? Too thick Moose! Larissa Little’s debut is solidly recorded for a first – hopefully she’ll stick with it – adding some performance to her reading. Hector has run his recording through a noise filter that’s quieted his pauses, making it all sound too undulating. Joseph Kellogg’s reading is good, but he’s in need of a pop filter, maybe Mooseboy can lend him an arm of that sweater. Allegra’s got a noisy recording environment. Turn off the air conditioning! Overall, I’d have to credit Jerry Dixon’s reading as the best of the bunch, though it’s not absolutely stellar.

All of the below has also been added to our ALAN E. NOURSE page.

LibriVox Science Fiction Audiobook - Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 008 by Alan E. NourseShort Science Fiction Collection Vol. 008
By Alan Edward Nourse; Read by various
10 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: October 24th, 2008
This volume of the LibriVox Science-Fiction Collection is devoted to Alan E. Nourse (1928-1992). Nourse became a science fiction writer to help pay for his medical education, but eventually retired from practicing medicine to pursue his writing career. This reader-selected collection presents ten of his short stories which were published between 1954 and 1963. Extensive research by Project Gutenberg volunteers did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on these publications were renewed. Please consider this a brief sampling of Nourse’s full range, and have fun buying and borrowing his other works.

Circus
By Alan E. Nourse; Read by Daniele F.
1 |MP3| – Approx. 20 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

The Coffin Cure
By Alan E. Nourse; Read by James Christopher
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

Letter of the Law
By Alan E. Nourse; Read by Daniele F.
1 |MP3| – Approx. 43 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

The Link
By Alan E. Nourse; Read by Jerry Dixon
1 |MP3| – Approx. 36 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

Meeting of the Board
By Alan E. Nourse; Read by Corey M. Snow
1 |MP3| – Approx. 36 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

My Friend Bobby
By Alan E. Nourse; Read by Mooseboy Alfonzo
1 |MP3| – Approx. 22 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

The Native Soil
By Alan E. Nourse; Read by Larissa Little
1 |MP3| – Approx. 47 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

An Ounce of Cure
By Alan E. Nourse; Read by Hector
1 |MP3| – Approx. 11 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

PRoblem
By Alan E. Nourse; Read by Joseph Kellogg
1 |MP3| – Approx. 29 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

Second Sight
By Alan E. Nourse; Read by Allegra
1 |MP3| – Approx. 27 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

Podcast Feed:

http://librivox.org/bookfeeds/short-science-fiction-collection-vol-008.xml

Posted by Jesse Willis