The SFFaudio Podcast #383 – READALONG: The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

August 22, 2016 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #383 – Jesse, Bryan Alexander, and Steen Hansen talk about The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton.

Talked about on today’s show:
1969, before the Apollo 11 Moon Landing, contemporary critics, SF critics vs. mainstream critics, the defense of the ghetto against interlopers, Ray Bradbury, Doris Lessing, a deep feeling, spoiling the book, showing what was wrong with it, getting the facts wrong, interpretation, Luke Burrage reviewing, Robert J. Sawyer, bad writing, had they done nothing … nothing would have happened, the mutation, the Wildfire facility, Star Trek, scientists out for the good of humanity, self-destruct sequences, MAD: Mutually Assured Destruction, every nuclear sub movie, film-like, The Ipcress File by Len Deighton, airport fiction tropes, hyper competent high level government high tech mcguffins, brain-washing, novel -> film, written for film?, ER, picky fiddly science and bureaucratic operation, killed or useless, trusted scientists to save the world, ruthlessly hard science, Hollywood couldn’t make this movie now, restrained, chilly, the gender swap, Robert Wise, Shirley Jackson, The Haunting Of Hill House, Alfred Bester, a document dump, classified material, overloading the reader with verisimilitude, Eaters Of The Dead by Michael Crichton, The Thirteenth Warrior, Vikings, Russians and Byzantium, completely bullshit, Mr. Bullshit, regular SF vs. techno-thriller, a yummy INFODUMP, nobody had a definition for life, black cloth, a watch, a piece of granite, pure Science Fiction, Bryan’s mind destroyed at age 8, binary numbers, lasers vs. darts, Larry Niven, 24, Colossus: The Forbin Project, Steen welcomes our robot overlord, high-scale AI, Iain M. Banks, humans as pets, humans as cogs, I Have No Mouth And I must Scream, Prof. Eric S. Rabkin, Dante Alighieri, lost race, the descent into Hell, from red to blue, the harrowing of Hell, a cold war story where the Russians aren’t the bad guys, The Bedford Incident, James Follett’s The Light Of A Thousand Suns, set in the recent past, the shotgun approach, Margaret Atwood, picking and choosing at the buffet table, dedicated to A.C.D., M.D. -> Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle -> Dr. Michael Crichton, “not a new story”, the glowing review in Life magazine, a retelling of The Blob, the Technovelgy, auto-doc, the suppressed cancer drug, Jensen Pharmaceuticals, gut flora, nudity and ass-grabbing, rectal suppository, astro-Tang, coffee, all that cleaning, they’re too holy, the five levels is a gimmick, the leveling, it’s bullshit!, we all know we have to wash our hands, the Wikipedia entry for the Airport Genre

Airport novel(s) represent a literary genre that is not so much defined by its plot or cast of stock characters, as much as it is by the social function it serves. An airport novel is typically a fairly long but fast-paced novel of intrigue or adventure that is stereotypically found in the reading fare offered by airport newsstands for travelers to read in the rounds of sitting and waiting that constitute air travel.

Rudyard Kipling’s fiction was published as a railway magazine, the origin of pulp fiction, The Lion’s Game by Nelson DeMille, the opening to The Strain, having the reins of political power at your fingertips, in the 2008 miniseries remake, back stories/love stories, a muddy anti-science mess, pre-Apollo -> Watergate -> conspiracy theories, the technical glitch (paper between the bell and the striker), germ warfare?!, the remake of The Manchurian Cantidate, the films and adaptations reflect the times, the 2008 version is super-militarized, X-18, F-4 phantoms, Dracula, the long gothic tradition of found documents, Plan 9 From Outer Space, a cold war document, The Parallax View, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Crichton like Spielberg loves power, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, the end of Raiders Of The Lost Ark, medical people as superheroes, uber-expert scientists, power fantasy fiction, scepticism of power, image Michael Crichton at a Science Fiction convention, the immune reaction, You are not of the body!, techno-thrillers, why Ian Fleming’s James Bond books became so popular, JFK, Ronald Reagan was a big fan of Tom Clancy, The Hunt For Red October, Reagan based foreign policy of Red Storm Rising, Jack Ryan was a wonk Navy -> CIA agent -> CIA Director -> President, Firefox, political fiction written for a jet-set audience, conservative Heinleinian, Andromeda Strain cosplay?, Footfall by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, SF writers save the world from alien invasion, science matters vs. science fiction, the first biology crisis, outflanking the ghetto, the 2006 Worldcon, Greg Benford, Greg Bear, David Brin, thinking up scenarios, if I was a terrorist how would I destroy the the United States, Wildfire, Cold War contingency planning, the Rand Corporation, the odd-man out element, his name was Hall but should have been Corridor, does this make sense?, the odd man is gay?, The Odd Couple, gay coding?, gay men are most likely to turn off nukes?, The Great Train Robbery, timing pacing planning tricking, that roller-coaster spark, opening observation, we are always observing, fun fiction for Henry Kissinger and the jet set, bureaucrats of a class, this function material is reflective, Science Fiction writers are poor, Robert Silverberg, Lawrence Block and Donald Westlake, Isaac Asimov, a biology book, Paul Di Filippo, bio-punk, Ribo-funk, The Bay (2012), The Hot Zone, the wet science, cloning, the neglected science, Coma, Protector by Larry Niven, how electron-microscopes work, crystallography, “it mutated”?!?!?, that was odd, it’s communicating with itself, block-chain virus, deep hurting, The Door Into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski, medicine without silicon, the Patriarchy, The Highest Frontier, Blood Music by Greg Bear, a Halo novel, The Wind From A Burning Woman, a “wild” writing style, bio is hard to do, Pontypool, prions, the worst part of The Walking Dead, we’re all infected, a symbol for regular death, Titan by John Varley, a 100ft tall Marilyn Monroe monster, The Satan Bug by Alistair Maclean (1962), where does the techno-thriller begin, a precursor to techno-thriller, The Stolen Bacillus by H.G. Wells, a really obvious anarchist, Wells defused the whole genre for sixty years, The Food Of The Gods, a convincing linguistic maneuver, fawning of technology bureaucracy power and the function of government, a stack of Jane’s Fighting Ships, the Sputnik shock, British invasion novels, Tom Clancy as a zombie brand, special helicopter trip, massive government expenditure for the competent man, an empty jetliner, vicarious thrill, power fantasy, “he’s the most important person right now”, this is our bailiwick!, nice and short, Dean Koontz, Phantoms, A Game Of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, Ghost Fleet by August Cole and P.W. Singer, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child books, no CRISPR, China is no Soviet Union, futurism, education moves so slowly, Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, an X-Box with Paranoid Linux, Reamde by Neal Stephenson, a Kurt Vonnegut vibe, a Welsh Muslim terrorist, like pornography you know a techno-thriller when you see it.

The dedication for The Andromeda Strain

title page for The Andromeda Strain

Algis Budrys review of The Andromeda Strain

Life Magazine review of The Andromeda Strain

The Andromeda Strain - illustration by Dusty Abell

The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton - Random House Audio read by Chris Noth

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #098 – NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRIVALS

March 7, 2011 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #098 – Scott and Jesse talk with Luke Burrage about the new audiobook releases. And we also play Philip K. Dick’s “Preserving Machine” game in which you pick a piece of music and transform it into an animal.

Talked about on today’s show:
New releases, The Adjustment Bureau by Philip K. Dick, Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review, Roger Ebert, “Meet Cute”, Phil Gigante, The Stainless Steel Rat, Gregg Margarite, Russian Ark, Hermitage, The SFBRP Podcast, Your Movie Sucks, Dune, “This movie is a real mess, an incomprehensible, ugly, unstructured, pointless excursion into the murkier realms of one of the most confusing screenplays of all time.”, Korean movies mix humor, horror, drama, “the tone is off” in Shakespeare too, Unknown (a special edition of Out Of My Head), Berlin, Bronson Pinchot, Richard Matheson, On Stranger Tides, Bronson Pinchot has “a whole crew full of pirates in his mouth”, Audible.com, Beverly Hills Cop, Gideon’s Sword by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler, Arthur C. Clarke’s Richter 10 by Mike McQuay, a Gene Wolfe writing exercise, The Unincorporated Man by Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin |READ OUR REVIEW|, “trickster, prodigy, master thief”, techno-thriller-ish, Planet Of The Damned by Harry Harrison, West Of Eden, Bill The Galactic Hero, Long After Midnight by Ray Bradbury, Tantor Media, Michael Prichard, Drink Entire: Against the Madness of Crowds, The Odyssey of Homer, “he’s in a boat, Poseidon hates him, then he’s home”, the origins of Necromancy are in The Odyssey, Philip K. Dick was directly inspired by The Odyssey, An Improvised Life: A Memoir by Alan Arkin, James Randi, The Black Widowers, The Trapdoor Spiders, Isaac Asimov, the Amazing Larry, Luke jumps on giant balloons |VIDEO|, Galaxy Science Fiction magazine, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Physics Of The Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny And Our Daily Lives By The Year 2100 by Michio Kaku, Art Bell and Coast To Coast AM, Jesse thinks string theory is bullshit, 2012, Higgs boson, Tachyons, what’s wrong with futurism, Popular Mechanics/Popular Science and the flying car, filtering metastases, The Troubled Man by Henning Mankell, Cynical-C, Kenneth Branagh as Wallander, the relationship between Science Fiction and detective fiction is that both allow the reader to participate in them, who-dun-it? vs. what happened?, Sherlock Holmes vs. Columbo, Agatha Christie vs. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie, The Blade Itself, The Writing Excuses Podcast, The Orbit Books Podcast #1, Jack Womack, Tamahome, sycophantic interviews are bad, Robert J. Sawyer, “the best stuff happens after the interview”, Richard K. Morgan’s article on Tolkien, The Space Dog Podcast, Ballentine Books, The Fountains Of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke, Lester del Rey, Utopia by Sir Thomas More, Simon Prebble, Gulliver’s Travels, dystopia, A Truly Golden Little Book, No Less Beneficial Than Entertaining, of the Best State of a Republic, and of the New Island Utopia, Steen Hansen, “immersed in Americanism”, The United States vs. Canada, American utopianism vs. Canadian muddling through, British North America Act, the long gun registry, Winston Churchill, did Winston Churchill write SF?, Newt Gingrich as an alternate history novel, Plato’s The Republic, Mein Kampf, Dianetics, Meatball Fulton (aka Tom Lopez), Ruby, Lady Windermere’s Brass Fantabulous, Part 2, “purposefully ridiculous”, new Audible.com releases, Audible Frontiers, When Gravity Fails by George Alec Effinger, Jonathan Davis, The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds, “grimy and grungy and punky”, Pushing Ice, mining the Oort cloud, Century Rain, Journey To The Center To The Earth, Gulliver’s Travels, Heart Of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, Kenneth Brannagh, Jorge Luis Borges, Stromboli, The Wise Man’s Fear (Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 2) by Patrick Rothfuss, Random House Audio, The Vampire Archives: The Most Complete Volume of Vampire Tales Ever Published edited by Otto Penzler, Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, undeadliest, Dreamsongs by George R.R. Martin, Heart Of Darkness, Alas Babylon by Pat Frank, Heavy Time by C.J. Cherryh, Lord Of Light by Roger Zelazny, Sri Lanka, Death Cloud by Andrew Lane, Venus by Ben Bova, The Children Of Dune by Frank Herbert, Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert, “talented readers” is a compliment?, “horribly unreadable” “throwthemacrosstheroomable”, family curse, Christopher Tolkien and Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson, Saga Of Seven Suns, Hellhole, sickmyduck, The Preserving Machine by Philip K. Dick |ETEXT|, Doc Labyrinth, Mozart bird, Beethoven beetle, Wagner animal, this is Dick talking about music, “Hey Jesse you must be the coolest teacher out there”, what would The Beatles be, put Lady Gaga in out comes Lady Gaga?, Vampire Weekend into meercats, what gender is this website?, Band Of Horses would yield themselves, “Weird Al” Yankovic?, “I wonder what will happen next?”, A Scanner Darkly, Radiohead would be an owl, if the term “sellout” applies to anyone in the universe it applies to Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert, planetary romance vs. space opera, Greenland vs. Iceland, Berlin means bogtown, are Malad residents are Malodorous?

Posted by Jesse Willis

New Releases: Dick, van Cauwelaert, Preston/Child, Harrison, Bradbury, Homer, Arkin, Fulton, Abercrombie, More

March 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, New Releases 

New Releases

The Wikipedia entry notes that this story is in the public domain!

BRILLIANCE AUDIO - The Adjustment Bureau by Philip K. DickThe Adjustment Bureau (aka Adjustment Team)
By Philip K. Dick; Read by Phil Gigante
1 CD – Approx. 1 Hour [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: March 4, 2011
ISBN: 9781441894694
Sample |MP3|
The Adjustment Bureau is a major motion picture based on Philip K. Dick’s classic paranoid story, The Adjustment Team. This is the short story, The Adjustment Team, which asks the question – Do we control our destiny, or do unseen forces manipulate us? Ed Fletcher is a real estate agent with a normal life, until one day he leaves the house for work a few minutes later than he should have. He arrives at a terrifying, grey, ash world. Ed rushes home and tells his wife, Ruth, who goes back to the office with him. When they return, everything is normal. But he soon realizes people and objects have subtly changed. Panic-stricken, he runs to a public phone to warn the police, only to have the phone booth ascend heavenward with Fletcher inside…

Trade in Liam Neeson and the movie for Bronson Pinchot and the audiobook…

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - Unknown by Dider van CauwelaertUnknown (A Special Edition of Out of My Head)
By Didier van Cauwelaert; Translated by Mark Polizzotti; Read by Bronson Pinchot
4 CDs – Approx. 4 Hours 21 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: December 2010
ISBN: 9781441759788
This fast-paced thriller is the basis for the February 2011 film Unknown, starring Liam Neeson, Frank Langella, Diane Kruger, and Aidan Quinn. Martin Harris returns home after a short absence to find that his wife doesn’t know him, another man is living in his house under his name, and the neighbors think he’s a raving lunatic. Worse, not a single person — family, colleague, or doctor — can vouch for him. Worse still, the impostor shares all of Martin’s memories, experiences, and knowledge, down to the last detail. He is, in fact, a more convincing Martin than Martin himself. Is it a conspiracy? Amnesia? Is Martin the victim of an elaborate hoax, or of his own paranoid delusion? In his high-powered new novel, Didier van Cauwelaert, the award-winning author of One-Way, explores the illusory nature of identity and the instability of the things we take for granted. Dispossessed of his job, his family, his name, and his very past, Martin Harris is an Everyman caught in an absurd and yet disturbingly convincing nightmare, one that seems to have no exit and that resists every explanation. Part moral fable, part Robert Ludlum-style thriller, Unknown is a fast-paced tale of one man’s desperate attempt to reclaim his existence — even at the cost of his own life.

HACHETTE AUDIO - Gideon's Sword by Douglas Preston and Lincoln ChildGideon’s Sword
By Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child; Read by John Glover
9 CDs – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Published: February 22, 2011
ISBN: 9781600249976
Introducing Gideon Crew: trickster, prodigy, master thief GIDEON’S SWORD At twelve, Gideon Crew witnessed his father, a world-class mathematician, accused of treason and gunned down. At twenty-four, summoned to his dying mother’s bedside, Gideon learned the truth: His father was framed and deliberately slaughtered. With her last breath, she begged her son to avenge him. Now, with a new purpose in his life, Gideon crafts a one-time mission of vengeance, aimed at the perpetrator of his father’s destruction. His plan is meticulous, spectacular, and successful. But from the shadows, someone is watching. A very powerful someone, who is impressed by Gideon’s special skills. Someone who has need of just such a renegade. For Gideon, this operation may be only the beginning…

Here’s a public domain, single narrator, audiobook that’s caught my eye…

Planet Of The Damned by Harry HarrisonPlanet of the Damned
By Harry Harrison; Read by Jim Roberts
Audible Download – Approx. 6 Hours 11 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Jimcin Recordings (through Audible.com)
Published: June 10, 2010
In Planet of the Damned, Brion Brandd, the winner of “The Twenties”, a kind of planet-wide Olympics of both mind and body, barely has time to savor his victory when he is called away by a previous winner to help save Dis, a planet that seems intent on its own destruction and the destruction of it’s neighbor. When Brion and his friend Lea arrive on Dis, they are confronted by baffling questions. What planetary evolution has caused such a difference in the inhabitants? Why are one set of people deeply connected with the planet and one totally unconnected to anything but dominance and destruction? He must find the answersto these questions and find the link essential to saving both worlds while racing against a doomsday clock. It will take all their skill, courage, and empathy to do this.

I love that Tantor Media is releasing a short story collection AND listing the contents disc by disc…

TANTOR MEDIA - Long After Midnight by Ray BradburyLong After Midnight
By Ray Bradbury; Read by Michael Prichard
8 CDs – Approx. 9 Hours 30 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Media
Piblished: July 26, 2010
In twenty-two stories of amazing range and variety, Ray Bradbury once again works his special magic, sounding out life’s mysteries in the past, present, and the future. Two drifters caught in the backwash of space wander from city to dead city, sifting the rubble for the fabled Blue Bottle of Mars—and find in it two different, equally entrancing, dooms… A young boy in Green Town, Illinois, does not marry—yet marries—his beloved eighth-grade teacher… In the hell of a Manhattan July night, Will Morgan is offered a possibly Mephistophelean proposal by which he might gain a perfect love and a magical immunity… A jealous husband who orders an exact replica of his unfaithful wife from an android manufacturing company (purpose: murder) runs afoul of the compassionate new “live robot” law… At forty-eight, seized with an overwhelming desire to settle an old score, a man journeys back into the past under the spell of his “utterly perfect, incredibly delightful idea,” only to recoil in stunned disbelief when he confronts, at last, his former tormentor… Bradbury’s imaginative field is boundless. In this book, his stories carry us from the cozy familiarity of the small-town America we lived in in Dandelion Wine to the frozen desert and double moon that have been part of our interior landscape since The Martian Chronicles. His characters range from the “ordinary”—a rookie cop, an unhappy wife on vacation in Mexico, an old parish priest hearing confession—to the quite extraordinary: the parrot to whom Ernest Hemingway confided the plot of his last, greatest, never-put-down-on-paper novel, and a woman who, in New York City in the summer of 1974, hangs out a sign reading “Melissa Toad, Witch.” Fantastic or conventional, chillingly suspenseful or hauntingly nostalgic, each of these stories has that aura of the unexpected combined with the special ring of absolute rightness that is brilliantly, uniquely Bradbury.

Track List for Long After Midnight:

Disc 1
“The Blue Bottle”—Track 1
“One Timeless Spring”—Track 10
“The Parrot Who Met Papa”—Track 16
Disc 2
“The Burning Man”—Track 2
“A Piece of Wood”—Track 9
“The Messiah”—Track 13
“G.B.S.—Mark V”—Track 21
Disc 3
“The Utterly Perfect Murder”—Track 3
“Punishment Without Crime”—Track 11
“Getting Through Sunday Somehow”—Track 19
Disc 4
“Drink Entire: Against the Madness of Crowds”—Track 1
“Interval in Sunlight”—Track 11
Disc 5
“A Story of Love”—Track 9
“The Wish”—Track 17
Disc 6
“Forever and the Earth”—Track 2
“The Better Part of Wisdom”—Track 17
Disc 7
“Darling Adolf”—Track 4
“The Miracles of Jamie”—Track 17
Disc 8
“The October Game”—Track 1
“The Pumpernickel”—Track 8
“Long After Midnight”—Track 11
“Have I Got a Chocolate Bar for You!”—Track 16
Not exactly new, but definitely worth highlighting…

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - The Odyssey Of HomerThe Odyssey of Homer
Based on the epic poem by Homer; Performed by a full cast
8 CDs – Approx. 9.3 Hours [RADIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: April 2003
ISBN: 0786192836
When this groundbreaking serialized dramatization premiered on radio, critics were unanimous in their praise, calling it “a feast for the ears” and “a magnificent blend of scholarship and showmanship.” It won numerous honors including the George Foster Peabody Award, the Pulitzer Prize of broadcasting. Now, twenty years after its first airing, Blackstone Audio is pleased to present this outstanding production, dramatized here with intermittent discussions by classical scholars. The 2,600-year-old poem tells of a man, a hero of cunning rather than brawn, who inhabits three worlds: the world of his own reality, the world of the gods and demigods, and the world of magic and monsters. The interweaving of these three worlds contributes significantly to the delight that The Odyssey has inspired throughout the ages.

It’s always exciting when a Science Fiction author writes his own biography (or memoir). Yes, in case you don’t believe it, Alan Arkin is really an SF author!

Blackstone Audio - An Improvised Life by Alan ArkinAn Improvised Life: A Memoir
By Alan Arkin; Read by Alan Arkin
4 CDs – Approx. 4.3 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: March 2011
ISBN: 9781441782274
In this insightful memoir, Oscar-winning actor Alan Arkin reflects back on finding his place as an actor and what theater—specifically the improvisational sort—has taught him about the craft and life. Alan Arkin knew he was going to be an actor from the age of five. From this early age, he recognized that “every film I saw, every play, every piece of music fed an unquenchable need to turn myself into something other than what I was.” An Improvised Life is Arkin’s wise and unpretentious recollection of the process, artistic and personal, of becoming an actor and a revealing look into the creative mind of one of the best practitioners on the stage and screen. Arkin, in a manner that is direct, down-to-earth, accessible, and articulate, reveals not just insights about himself but truths for the rest of us about our sense of self, our work, and our relationships with others.

The cover has a flying car. That seems unlikely. Flying trucks and or trains would be my guess.

RANDOM HOUSE AUDIO - PHYSICS OF THE FUTURE  by Michio KakuPhysics Of The Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny And Our Daily Lives By The Year 2100
By Michio Kaku; Read by Feodor Chin
13 CDs – Approx. 16 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: 3/15/2011
ISBN: 9780307877055
In stunningly lucid fashion, award-winning theoretical physicist Michio Kaku synthesizes a vast amount of information to present an exciting roadmap of the century ahead, showing us just what life will be like in 2100. Discussing how science and technology will change our lives over the coming century, Michio Kaku calls on his own expertise and his phenomenal contacts to construct a fascinating and detailed look at the future. He discusses computer technology, artificial intelligence, medicine, nanotechnology, space travel, energy production, and the economy. Combining his own research with that of a myriad of experts, he forecasts a century of earthshaking advances in technology that make even the last centuries’ leaps and bounds seem insignificant. By 2100, the world will have changed dramatically: -Computers, as we know them, will likely cease to exist. Instead chips implanted in contact lenses will project your email, the front page of the newspaper, and in fact anything you currently see on a monitor directly onto your retina, and the cutting edge computer technology will be quantum computers which calculate using subatomic particles. -Life expectancy will probably reach 150 years. Our clothing will constantly monitor our vital signs and alert us to danger, and nanobots will continually scan our cells for signs of cancer. -We will be able to build entire buildings–atom by atom–using nanotechnology. -Most of our energy will come from non-polluting fusion reactors. -Cars will drive themselves with the help of GPS and an intricate network that monitors traffic patterns. The car will not have wheels but instead it will float on a cushion of air using cheap superconductors to create powerful magnetic fields which use up almost no energy. -Although we will probably have permanent manned-bases in space, the most far-reaching exploration will be conducted by millions of needle-sized space ships shot at near the speed of light to distant stars. And as remarkable as this all seems, it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Michio’s vision is both optimistic and exuberant, but he also takes us through a step-by-step progression of likely achievements to show just why his forecast is realistic and, in many cases, inevitable. He also has a keen sense for the types of technologies we, as a species, are predisposed to actively pursue and therefore can separate what things we are likely to accomplish from those that will be relegated to the scrap heap of technology. In the end, he looks at how these developments will affect the way we work, the way we play and in fact, the very society in which we live in 2100.Like Physics of the Impossible and Visions before it, The Physics of the Future is an exhilarating ride through the next hundred years of breathtaking scientific revolutions.

In case you were wondering: Henning, Laurie and Robin are all dudes.

RANDOM HOUSE AUDIO - The Troubled Man by Henning MankellThe Troubled Man
By Henning Mankell; Translated by Laurie Thompson; Read by Robin Sachs
14 CDs – Approx. 17 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: 3/29/2011
ISBN: 9780307877963
On a winter’s day in 2008, Hakan von Enke, a retired high-ranking naval officer, disappears during his daily walk in a forest near Stockholm . The investigation into his disappearance falls under the jurisdiction of the Stockholm police, but Wallander is personally affected: Enke is his beloved daughter Linda’s father-in-law. Before long, in his inimitable way, Wallander is interfering in matters that are not his responsibility, making promises he has no intention of keeping, telling lies when it suits him, paying little attention to normal procedure (including the law)–and, unlike the other detectives on the case, getting results. But the results seem to be pointing to elaborate Cold War espionage activities that confound even this master detective and grow more confounding the more he uncovers.The “troubled man” of the title is not just Enke, but also Wallander himself. The delighted grandfather of Linda’s newborn daughter, he is nonetheless obsessed with his physical and mental deterioration, negligent of his health and certain that at age 60, he’s on the threshold of senility. Haunted by his past, desperate to live up to the hope that his granddaughter presents him with, facing the future with profound uncertainty, Wallander will be forced to come face to face with his most intractable adversary: himself. Suspenseful, darkly atmospheric, psychologically gripping, THE TROUBLED MAN is Henning Mankell at his mesmerizing best.

To promote The Heroes, Joe Abercrombie went on the new Orbit Books podcast. Abercrombie was ok, but the host, Jack Womack, sounded like he’d bet every cent he owned on the novel being a bestseller. He’s not exactly obsequious, but the hyperbolic doesn’t do it for me. Have a listen |MP3|, judge for yourself.

TANTOR MEDIA - The Heroes by Joe AbercrombieThe Heroes
By Joe Abercrombie; Read By Michael Page
18 CDs – Approx. 22 Hours 30 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Media
Published: March 2011
ISBN: 9781400118472
They say Black Dow has killed more men than winter and clawed his way to the throne of the North up a hill of skulls. The King of the Union, ever a jealous neighbor, is not about to stand by smiling while Black Dow claws his way any higher. The orders have been given, and the armies are toiling through the northern mud. Thousands of men are converging on a forgotten ring of stones, on a worthless hill, in an unimportant valley, and they’ve brought a lot of sharpened metal with them. Bremer dan Gorst, disgraced master swordsman, has sworn to reclaim his stolen honor on the battlefield. Obsessed with redemption and addicted to violence, he’s far past caring how much blood gets spilled in the attempt. Even if it’s his own. Prince Calder isn’t interested in honor, and still less in getting himself killed. All he wants is power, and he’ll tell any lie, use any trick, and betray any friend to get it. Just as long as he doesn’t have to fight for it himself. Curnden Craw, the last honest man in the North, has gained nothing from a life of warfare but swollen knees and frayed nerves. He hardly even cares who wins anymore; he just wants to do the right thing. But can he even tell what that is with the world burning down around him? Over three bloody days of battle, the fate of the North will be decided. But with both sides riddled by intrigues, follies, feuds, and petty jealousies, it is unlikely to be the noblest hearts or even the strongest arms that prevail. Three men. One battle. No Heroes.

I read this in my teens, along with a number of other classics, I should probably revisit.

TANTOR MEDIA - Utopia by Sir Thomas MoreUtopia
By Sir Thomas More; Translated by Bishop Gilbert Burnet; Read by Simon Prebble
4 CDs – Approx. 4 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Media
Published: February 23, 2011
ISBN: 9781452601212
Sir Thomas More’s Utopia has spurred debate, reflection, and critical thinking since its original publication in the sixteenth century. More’s fictional island of Utopia provides an exploration of issues that shook him and his contemporaries and that continue to be problematic in the modern day. The details of More’s utopian society, such as the permissibility of euthanasia and comments on chastity in the priesthood, combine with proposals of coexisting varied religions to put forth a work that incorporates the totality of More’s religious, sociological, and philosophical talents.

A steampunk spoof with zombies from Meatball Fulton (aka Thomas Lopez)…

ZBS Foundation - Lady Windermere's Brass Fantabulous - Part TwoLady Windermere’s Brass Fantabulous, Part 2
By Meatball Fulton; Performed by a full cast
1 CD or MP3 Download – Approx. 75 Minutes [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: ZBS Foundation
Published: January 28, 2011
The Zombies were created to fight the Not-So-Great-War. The Krauts have been using zeppelins to drop canisters of synthetic Zombie gas on various villages in hopes of creating a ravenous fighting force. Our hero, Butterfield-Smith, was flying low over the Rhineland when patriotic Prussian peasants pelted his plane with tomatoes and cauliflowers. The Prussian’s ground artillery, seeing a pilot and biplane appearing to be splattered with blood and bits of brain, believed the English had created a Zombie Flying Corp!

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Terminal Freeze by Lincoln Child

October 19, 2009 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Random House Audio - Terminal Freeze by Lincoln ChildTerminal Freeze
By Lincoln Child; Read by Scott Brick
9 CDs – Approx. 10 Hours 30 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: February 2009
ISBN: 9780739382028
Themes: / Horror / Thriller / Techno-thriller / Science / Biology / Evolution / Paleoecology / Alaska / Ice / Ice Road Trucking /

Four hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle lies Alaska’s Federal Wilderness Zone, one of the most remote places on Earth. But for paleoecologist Evan Marshall and a small group of fellow scientists, an expedition to the Zone represents the opportunity of a lifetime to study the effects of global warming. The expedition changes suddenly, however, with an astonishing find. On a routine exploration of a glacial ice cave, the group discovers an enormous ancient animal encased in solid ice. The media conglomerate sponsoring their research immediately intervenes and arranges the ultimate spectacle—the animal will be cut from the ice, thawed, and revealed live on television. Despite dire warnings of a local Native American village, and the scientific concerns of Marshall and his team, the “docudrama” plows ahead—until the scientists make one more horrifying discovery. The beast is no regular specimen…it may be an ancient killing machine. And they may be wrong in presuming it dead.

Lincoln child begins Terminal Freeze by quoting all but the last couple sentences of THIS. It’s not exactly a scholarly article, more of a “fun science facts” story. But like Child there are plenty of other folks willing to proffer their own answers to this “mystery.” AboveTopSecret.com (a forum devoted to “conspiracies, UFO’s, paranormal, secret societies, political scandals, new world order, terrorism”) and AnswersInGenesis.org (a site about Young Earth creationism and a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis) both have explanations for the seemingly flash frozen mammoth that fit into other “theories.” If Child’s solution to the mystery, this novel, wasn’t presented as fiction it’d be just as ridiculous.

So, this isn’t really a Science Fiction novel. At first I had a hard time figuring out what it was. I clued in about the time I started hearing the scientists protags talking about something called “the Callisto Effect” – it sounded like utter bunk – so I looked it up. Yup it is bunk, it’s a fictional theory first invented for the Lincon Child/Douglas Preston novel The Relic (which got turned into a pretty good horror movie). The Callisto Effect is a Child/Preston invention, a kind of a fictional spin-off of the saltation hypothesis. As one other reviewer of this book noted the Callisto Effect can be summed up like this:

“…when a species becomes too numerous or starts to lose evolutionary vigor a monstrous superpredator suddenly appears and kills until it can kill no more.”

So ya, like I was saying, there are scientists in Terminal Freeze, and they talk about pseudo-scientific ideas, but this is just window dressing for the plot of a monster hunt.

We might think of the “techno-thriller” as a kind of a modern gothic novel. Even as far back as the 19th century, Edgar Allan Poe and Jules Verne, were setting their “fantastic tales in the remaining unexplored regions of the world. By the early 20th the likes of H.P. Lovecraft, and John W. Campbell only had one unexplored continent: Antarctica. The same would be true for a modern audience but now that even Antarctica has been laregly de-mystified we’re having to place our monster horror stories in inaccessible caves and hidden military bases (at least that’s the route Terminal Freeze takes).

The story is rather drawn out, with a number of blandish stock characters brought in seemingly only to be picked off one by one (which surpringly both does and doesn’t happen). The scientists, none of whom are particularly interesting, end up working with a local native, who was also co-incidentally a former soldier at Fear Base, and also a former junior scientist there, and also a co-discoverer of the original monster (back in the 1950s). Given those credentials you’d think then that he’d be absolutely instrumental in solving the mystery of what the frozen monster is and how it escaped. But no, he just gives a highly ineffectual and unrealistically cryptic warning (at the beginning of the novel) is promptly ignored – shuffles off the stage only to be brought back later, like Chekhov’s gun, jumbling around a bag of religious artifacts – which do nothing. Apparently the gun on the mantle was just a prop. Child added in an absolutely unnecessary batch of TV documentary people. The only reason I can think they’re there for is that it’d make for some good visuals should they make a movie of this novel. They’re all there when the monster in the ice escapes from the mysteriously melted ice. And of course their there when people start dying grizzly deaths as they wander off alone. But they don’t do much with those cameras and they end up leaving before the end.

After finishing the novel I was kind of interested in finding out if any of the locations in this novel were real. In the book there is a mountain called “Mount Fear,” a glacier called “Fear Glacier,” and a “Fear Base” (a D.E.W. Line style military facility). It turns out that they all don’t really exist, they are all made up.

One thing I did like about the novel was the discussion about the different types of ice. When the scientist are sitting around trying to explain how the creature in the ice escaped they briefly discuss different ways water crystallizes into ice, how these different types of ice are formed, and their differing properties. This briefly re-invigorates the mystery – but it is ultimately thrown away – discarded and replaced with a less than satisfactory explanation.

Scott Brick, who probably reads more books than any other audiobook narrator working today, does his best with what he’s given. The baddies come off badish, the heroes come off goodish, the monster comes off monsterish. The most interesting portion of the novel is actually a bit, almost completely tangential to the monster plot when an “ice road trucker” has to drive the survivors to safety. Brick works hard to make the cracking of the ice and the freezing cold compelling. And that’s the part of the novel is more believable.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #037

September 28, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #037 – Jesse and Scott talk about the latest audiobook releases, audiobook narrators and plenty more. It’s a show full of “stage-actory goodness” in which we learn the ultimate truth:

“the monster frozen in the ice is definitely alive”

Talked about on today’s show:
Scott is living the sequel to High Plains Drifter, Hercules by Geraldine McCaughrean, Full Cast Audio, Who was the greatest Greek hero?, Perseus, Odysseus by Geraldine McCaughrean, American Gods by Neil Gaiman, Achilles, Guest Law by John C. Wright, Infinivox, Aliens Rule edited by Allan Kaster, “How Music Begins” by James Van Pelt, Listening Library, the Becka Cooper series, Terrier by Tamora Peirce, Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce, Random House Audio, The Year Of The Flood by Margaret Atwood, Audible addiction, Audible Frontiers, The Wind Up Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi, Jonathan Davis, Infinivox’s The Fluted Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi, Recorded Books, Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross, Wild Voices Audio, The City And The Stars by Arthur C. Clarke, Blind Lake, Bridge Of Years, Darwinia, Spin by Robert Charles Wilson, Julian Comstock by Robert Charles Wilson, Hachette Audio, Transition by Iain M. Banks (UNABRIDGED), also the podcast version, Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks, Dune: House Atredies by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, Blackstone Audio, Treason by Orson Scott Card, Audible.com’s latest sale includes: Kindred by Octavia E. Butler, Ringworld by Larry Niven, The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, Stalking The Vampire by Mike Resnick, Waystation by Clifford Simak, Grover Gardner, Born Standing Up by Steve Martin, The Jerk, Macmillan Audio, The Box: Uncanny Stories by Richard Matheson, The Twilight Zone (1985), “Button Button” by Richard Matheson, (the collection also includes: Girl Of My Dreams, Dying Room Only, A Flourish Of Strumpets, No Such Thing As A Vampire, Pattern For Survival, Mute, Creeping Terror, Shock Wave, Clothes Make The Man, The Jazz Machine, ‘Tis The Season To Be Jelly, The Mystery Of Grace by Charles de Lint, Slings & Arrows – Series 1, Podkayne Of Mars by Robert A. Heinlein, Armor by John Steakley, John Carpenter’s Vampires
FlashForward by Robert J. Sawyer, Star Trek by Alan Dean Foster, FlashForward (the TV series), revealing or realizing the solution to a mystery in fiction, Terminal Freeze by Lincoln Child, Zachary Quinto, The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury, Shed Skin by Robert J. Sawyer, Burn Me Deadly by Alex Bledsoe, Sword Edged Blond, Blood Groove, Escape From Hell by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, The Mote In God’s Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, first contact, gender, feminism, The Gripping Hand by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, iPhone, audiobook functionality, CBC Radio and NPR apps.

Posted by Jesse Willis

New Releases – Reynolds, Child, Asimov, Willis

February 19, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: New Releases 

New Releases

Here’s a few new releases that have caught my eyes. There’s also a promise of a title to come that I just have to mention: Tantor Media has Scott Lynch’s The Lies Of Locke Lamora in the pipeline for a spring release! Somebody over in Tantor’s acquisitions department must be listening to our podcast!

Tantor Media - Redemption Ark by Alastair ReynoldsRedemption Ark
By Alastair Reynolds; Read by John Lee
24 CDs or 3 MP3-CDs – 29 Hours 30 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Media
Published: February 2009
ISBN: 9781400109579 (CD), 9781400159574 (MP3-CD)
The sequel to Revelation Space


Random House Audio - Terminal Freeze by Lincoln ChildTerminal Freeze
By Lincoln Child; Read by Scott Brick
9 CDs – 10 Hours 30 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: 2/24/2009
ISBN: 9780739382028

Four hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle lies Alaska’s Federal Wilderness Zone, one of the most remote places on Earth. But for paleoecologist Evan Marshall and a small group of fellow scientists, an expedition to the Zone represents the opportunity of a lifetime to study the effects of global warming. The expedition changes suddenly, however, with an astonishing find. On a routine exploration of a glacial ice cave, the group discovers an enormous ancient animal encased in solid ice. The media conglomerate sponsoring their research immediately intervenes and arranges the ultimate spectacle—the animal will be cut from the ice, thawed, and revealed live on television. Despite dire warnings of a local Native American village, and the scientific concerns of Marshall and his team, the “docudrama” plows ahead—until the scientists make one more horrifying discovery. The beast is no regular specimen…it may be an ancient killing machine. And they may be wrong in presuming it dead.

BBC Audiobooks America - Pebble In The Sky by Isaac AsimovPebble in the Sky
By Isaac Asimov; Read by Robert Fass
Audible Download, 7 CDs, 1 MP3-CD – 8 Hours 6 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: BBC Audiobooks America
Published: January 28, 2009
ISBN: 9780792760504 (cd), 9780792761860 (mp3-cd)
One moment Joseph Schwartz is a happily retired tailor in Chicago, 1949. The next he’s a helpless stranger on Earth during the heyday of the first Galactic Empire. Earth, as he soon learns, is a backwater, just a pebble in the sky, despised by all the other 200 million planets of the Empire because its people dare to claim it’s the original home of man. And Earth is poor, with great areas of radioactivity ruining much of its soil – so poor that everyone is sentenced to death at the age of 60. Joseph Schwartz is 62.

BBC Audiobooks America - The Stars, Like Dust by Isaac AsimovThe Stars, Like Dust
By Isaac Asimov; Read by Stephen R. Thorne
6 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – 7 Hours 22 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: BBC Audiobooks America
Published: 2009?
ISBN: 9780792757863 (cd), 9780792758297 (mp3-cd)
Biron Farrell was young and naïve, but he was growing up fast. A radiation bomb planted in his dorm room changed him from an innocent student at the University of Earth to a marked man, fleeing desperately from an unknown assassin. He soon discovers that, many light-years away, his father has been murdered. Stunned, grief-stricken, and outraged, Biron is determined to uncover the reasons behind his father’s death, and becomes entangled in an intricate saga of rebellion, political intrigue, and espionage. The mystery takes him deep into space where he finds himself in a relentless struggle with the power-mad despots of Tyrann.

Blackstone Audio - Bellwether by Connie WillisBellwether
By Connie Willis; Read by Kate Reading
5 Cassettes, 1 MP3-CD, 5 CDs – Approx. 5.6 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: February 2009
ISBN: 9781433246234 (cassette), 9781433246265 (mp3-cd), 9781433246241 (cd)
Sandra Foster studies fads and their meanings for the HiTek corporation. Bennett O’Reilly works with monkey-group behavior and chaos theory for the same company. When the two are thrust together due to a misdelivered package and a run of seemingly bad luck, they find a joint project in a flock of sheep. But a series of setbacks and disappointments arise before they are able to find answers to their questions—with the unintended help of the errant, forgetful, and careless office assistant Flip.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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