CBC Vanishing Point – The Playground adapted from the story by Ray Bradbury

December 30, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Where did helicopter parenting come from? Maybe from the same deep fearful psychological roots as Ray Bradbury’s 1952 short story THE PLAYGROUND.

CBC - The Vanishing PointThis Ray Bradbury Vanishing Point adaptation of The Playground is one of Ray Bradbury’s rarest radio dramas! Not available in any of the Archive.org listings, missing from all the other usual sites around the web, I finally tracked down one old archived link and here it is:

|MP3|

Dramatized by Martin Lager
Cast: Roger Dunn, Elva Mai Hoover, Tom Butler, Chance Drury, Keram Malicki-Sanchez, Brian Stittle, Danny Higham

This episode was supposedly broadcast on CBC Radio on November 2, 1984 – but that may not be correct.

Funny thing, I would have suspected this episode didn’t actually exist except for the facts that I had heard it and actually have a copy. Yet, even more strangely it is possible it may never have been broadcast* despite the fact that the end of the preceding episode of Vanishing Point mentions “The Playground” by “Ray Bradbury” will be broadcast “next week”.

This is a really, really rare modern audio drama folks!

For those who’d like to add some details to the various archives around the web here’s the front, back, and inside covers for the 1994 Listening Library commercial release giving the episode’s credits. This last is the only place I’ve found The Playground‘s credits:

Listening Library - CBC Vanishing Point

Listening Library - CBC Vanishing Point

Listening Library - CBC Vanishing Point

Here’s the art from the first magazine publication in Esquire, October 1953:

The Playground by Ray Bradbury - illustration from Esquire, October 1953

And here’s The Ray Bradbury Theater TV adaptation, starring William Shatner:

Posted by Jesse Willis

*even the commercial released cassette version above doesn’t have any end of episode credits!

Review of White Cat by Holly Black

June 24, 2011 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

LISTENING LIBRARY - White Cat by Holly BlackWhite Cat: The Curse Workers, Book One
By Holly Black; Read by Jesse Eisenberg
1 |MP3| – Approx. 6 Hours 41 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Listening Library
Published: May 11, 2010
ISBN: 9780307711816
Themes: / Fantasy / Urban Fantasy / Con men / Curses / Magic /

I wake up barefoot, standing on cold slate tiles. Looking dizzily down. I suck in a breath of icy air.

Above me are stars. Below me, the bronze statue of Colonel Wallingford makes me realize I’m seeing the quad from the peak of Smythe Hall, my dorm.

I have no memory of climbing the stairs up to the roof. I don’t even know how to get where I am, which is a problem since I’m going to have to get down, ideally in a way that doesn’t involve dying.

[…]

I’d dreamed of a white cat. It leaned over me, inhaling sharply, as if it was going to suck the breath from my lungs, but then it bit out my tongue instead. There was no pain, only a sense of overwhelming, suffocating panic. In the dream, my tongue was a wriggling red thing, mouse-sized and wet, that the cat carried in her mouth. I wanted it back. I sprang up out of the bed and grabbed for her, but she was too lean and too quick. I chased her. The next thing I knew, I was teetering on a slate roof.

A siren wails in the distance, drawing closer. My cheeks hurt from smiling.

Eventually a fireman climbs a ladder to get me down. They put a blanket around me, but by then my teeth are chattering so hard that I can’t answer any of their questions. It’s like the cat bit out my tongue after all.

Born into a family of curse workers, Cassell doesn’t have the magical powers to be a “worker.” Curses come in all shapes and sizes from transforming victims into something else down to emotionally influencing people. All that is needed is the touch of a finger. This makes gloves much more than a fashion accessory since they are a necessary item of protection.

Curse work is illegal so curse workers are all either part of the powerful crime families, con workers, or exist with their secret on the edges of society. Cassell’s family owes allegiance to a powerful crime family and working cons is as normal as breathing. In fact, working the con is the thing that makes up for not being a worker and Cassell eyes the world from this vantage point, which makes him a solitary figure with few friends.

Cassell has a dark secret, a problem with sleepwalking, and a family who specializes in running cons. He also lost the love of his life, Lila, long ago. However, he put that all behind him and is concentrating on life in boarding school and building a normal life, along with keeping book on the side. (Hey, a guy has to have a little spending money, right?) So when a white cat begins following him everywhere, terrifying dreams bring Lila back into his waking thoughts, and those dark secrets begin surfacing again, Cassell begins to suspect that he is a pawn in a complicated con game.

Can he out-con the pros and solve his problems? Well, of course he can or what would be the point of reading the book? The fascination is with watching Cassell have to admit that he needs help from others, seeing his longing for family ties even as he fears that he may have been betrayed by them,

Holly Black has a fully realized alternate world where the presence of curse working and magic define much more than Cassell’s personal problems. There is a slight but interesting subplot about an organization that is working for “worker’s rights.” The government has begun pushing a testing program, urging workers to come forward and be identified. Family loyalty along with the inner workings of crime families are also interesting embellishments to the plot. The magical abilities described are fascinating, as is the concept of “blow back” which besets anyone who works a curse. Nothing is done with impunity so you’d better be darned sure you want to curse someone because you will suffer some sort of severe reaction in turn.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the book is that Cassell is an unreliable narrator. What is more, he knows he is an unreliable narrator as he is afraid that he is too influenced by dreams or that his memory has been worked. Everyone around him is fairly unreliable as well since Cassell is never sure when someone is working a con or being natural. Although some major plot twists are fairly well telegraphed ahead of time, this hardly matters because we are so concerned with the fact that Cassell may be working a con we don’t see or that he is being conned himself.

The story is narrated by Jesse Eisenberg, who is probably best known for portraying the awkward college student in Zombieland or the equally awkward Mark Zuckerberg in Social Network. His trademark delivery works perfectly as the story is told by Cassell who is equally as awkward as either of those movie characters. Furthermore, Eisenberg alters his voice slightly but effectively to portray different characters: a fortune teller, Cassell’s mother, his roommate Sam, and the crime boss all get slightly different intonations which perfectly convey character. I would have liked the book anyway as a straight read, but with Eisenberg’s narration I bought it hook, line, and sinker. Just like an average mark, in fact.

It is called urban fantasy but didn’t really feel that way to me. It is fantasy because of the curse working element but other than that there are precious few fantastic elements. Likewise, it is labeled YA, but aside from the age of the narrator and some elements like having to attend classes, it didn’t feel like something written for younger readers.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. What can I say? I like con stories. I like the universe Holly Black created. Jesse Eisenberg’s narration pulled me into the story so I stayed there long enough to care about a boarding school student with an interesting set of problems. I also liked the fact that the story arc was concluded in this book except for one element which obviously serves as a bridge to the second book of the series.

It’s just plain fun all round and moves at a fast, addictive pace. Recommended.

Posted by Julie D.

Random House Audio: Three FREE audiobooks: Louis L’Amour, Holly Black, Marjorie Weinman Sharmat

June 9, 2011 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Random House Audio has made three very different audiobooks available for FREE DOWNLOAD on their website. One’s a novel, and the other two are short stories. As all three are in the MP3 format and just single files (even the novel) I’m going to HuffDuff all three later today. I’ve already started listening to Louis L’Amour title, and I’ve got to tell you, the introductory material in which L’Amour himself tells stories from his own life, is ABSOLUTELY RIVETING – it’s amazing, amazing stuff.

LISTENING LIBRARY - White Cat by Holly BlackWhite Cat: The Curse Workers, Book One
By Holly Black; Read by Jesse Eisenberg
1 |MP3| – Approx. 6 Hours 41 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Listening Library
Published: May 11, 2010
ISBN: 9780307711816
Cassel comes from a family of curse workers—people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they’re all criminals. Many become mobsters and con artists. But not Cassel. He hasn’t got magic, so he’s an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail—he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago. Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts to crumble when he finds himself sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He’s noticing other disturbing things too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him. As Cassel begins to suspect he’s part of a huge con game, he must unravel his past and his memories. To find out the truth, Cassel will have to outcon the conmen.

LISTENING LIBRARY - Nate The Great Goes UndercoverNate The Great Goes Undercover (From Nate the Great Collected Stories: Volume 1)
By Marjorie Weinman Sharmat; Read by John Lavelle
1 |MP3| – Approx. 14 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Listening Library
Published: May 13, 2008
ISBN: 9780807216651
Nate the Great has his first night case! Somebody is raiding Oliver’s garbage can each night, but who? The list of suspects is long. Nate courageously encounters a skunk and a telephone pole, but not until he goes under cover of the garbage can lid does he narrow the suspects down to one.

RANDOM HOUSE AUDIO - Survival by Louis L'AmourSurvival
By Louis L’Amour; Read by Richard Crenna
1 |MP3| – Approx. 1 Hour 6 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: Nov 9, 1999
ISBN: 055345031X
This harrowing adventure of shipwreck and survival is L’Amour’s fictionalized account of the heroic true story of merchant seaman Tex Worden and his efforts to save the passengers of the doomed Raratonga. A unique look at the early life and times of one of our most cherished writers, Survival is the action-packed oral biography of a true American original, an audiocassette that no L’Amour fan will want to miss. Includes biographical notes read by L’Amour himself.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Around The World In Eighty Days by Jules Verne

February 4, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

LISTENING LIBRARY - Around The World In Eighty Days by Jules VerneAround The World In Eighty Days
By Jules Verne; Read by Jim Dale
7 CDs – Approx. 7 Hours 42 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Listening Library
Published: 2005
ISBN: 0307206424
Themes: / Adventure / 19th Century / Gambling / Religion / Mormonism /

Shocking his stodgy colleagues at the exclusive Reform Club, enigmatic Englishman Phileas Fogg wagers his fortune, undertaking an extraordinary and daring enterprise to circumnavigate the globe in eighty days. With his French valet Passepartout in tow, Verne’s hero traverses the far reaches of the earth, all the while tracked by the intrepid Detective Fix, a bounty hunter certain he is on the trail of a notorious bank robber. Combining exploration, adventure, and a thrilling race against time, Around The World In Eighty Days gripped audiences upon its original publication and remains hugely popular to this day.

When I get into a subject, I really get into it. I think I’m becoming something of an Around The World In Eighty Days expert. I’ve tracked down the episode of Have Gun Will Travel that includes a visit from Phileas Fogg. I’ve gotten my mitts on several audiobook versions, and a BBC radio dramatization too. I’ve watched the Michael Palin series that took inspiration from the novel. I poured over the Classics Illustrated comics version.

Phileas Fogg, who seems to epitomize a certain kind of stereotypical Englishman, is described as emotionless. He makes his calculations, and like the watch he carries, ticks away without a wasted movement. At one point a certain travelling companion makes a remark something like “this is the only time I’ve seen you become emotional” this when confronted by the prospect of sitting idly by while a woman is burned alive. Fogg’s reponse: “I am emotional, when I have the time.” That burning, by the way, takes the form of a Hindu “suttee.” Later on in Utah, Passepartout, Fogg’s manservant, takes in a sermon in the form of a lecture on the history of Mormonism. It’s a hilarious scene, and as such this book is one of the few classics that I will probably re-read. Around The World In Eighty Days overflows such gems. It’s biggest failing is that a good deal of the suspense Verne injects comes from out of nowhere, clunks around the pages, making waste, only to sputter out into utter forgetability at the end.

Narrator Jim Dale, best known for his work on the Listening Library Harry Potter audiobooks, brings a full range of accents and voices to this audiobook. Dale does a really terrific Passepartout! The production includes some seemingly randomly insterted music and sound effects that nearly drown out Dale’s performance. That’s bad. Additional mistakes include an image of a hot air balloon on the cover. There is absolutely no balloon in this novel, though one appears in a couple of video adaptations.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #092

January 24, 2011 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #092 – Scott and Jesse talk about audiobooks, the recent arrivals and the new releases. We also talk about big box bookstores, comics, and classic audiobooks

Talked about on today’s show:
Blackstone Audio, Somewhere In Time, Richard Matheson, self-hypnosis as time travel, lame covers, “melancholy but not depressing”, Stir Of Echoes by Richard Matheson |READ OUR REVIEW|, Other Kingdoms, Bronson Pinchot, Stefan Rudnicki, Journal Of The Gun Years, Earthbound, Stir Of Echoes 2 – still stirring echoes?, The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card, Emily Janice Card, i’m always in favour of secret libraries, RadioArchive.cc, a dramatization of Fahrenheit 451, To Catch A Thief, Thief, James Caan, Spencer Tracy, Grace Kelly, France, BBC audio dramas don’t take a lot of risks, the virtues and vices of experimental audio drama, conservative audio dramas, Majipoor Chronicles by Robert Silverberg, “memory cubes in a massive library”, Lord Valentine’s Castle, Arte Johnson, Valentine Pontifex, The Space Dog Podcast #003 (vintage 1982 Silverberg), Silverberg’s 1970s Science Fiction hiatus, “trilogies are ill-conceived”, The City Of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers, Paul Michael Garcia, anagrams, “fructodism”, Terry Pratchett, Die Stadt der Träumenden Bücher, book translation is re-writing a book, Cornelia Funke, The Thief Lord, The Dragonheart, Inkheart, reading books in translation, The Long Walk by Sławomir Rawicz, The Way Back, Declare by Tim Powers, Simon Prebble, coded messages, Kim Philby, the Spanish Civil War, are there soccer podcasts?, there are lots of them, Scott is a Liverpool fan, multiple readers, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card |READ OUR REVIEW|, Grover Gardner, Fire Will Fall by Carol Plum-Ucci, Kirby Heyborne, Little Brother by Cory Doctorow|READ OUR REVIEW|, “audiobooks have never been healthier”, Audible Frontiers, subscription book clubs, the last first Heinlein book, For Us The Living by Robert A. Heinlein, Venus by Ben Bova, Blackstone Audio doesn’t give up on series, crazy collectors, Books On Tape, what happened to BOT?, Random House, Listening Library, Macmillan Audio, Brilliance Audio, Amazon.com, Chapters bookstores in British Columbia have very tiny audiobook sections, Barnes & Noble doesn’t love audiobooks either, Borders has a better selection, Logan, Utah, Idaho Falls, Idaho, The Walking Dead – Volume 1, zombies, Robert Kirkman, horrible zombie audiobook, Poul Anderson, Brain Wave by Poul Anderson (the subject of an upcoming readalong?), Larry Niven called it “a masterpiece”, Macmillian Audio exclusively on Audible.com, Shades Of Milk And Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal, Jane Austen, The Elephant To Hollywood by Michael Caine, What’s It All About by Michael Caine, The Man Who Would Be King by Rudyard Kipling, , Nancy Kress, Probability Moon, Infinivox, The Shadow Year by Jeffrey Ford, “surreal, unsettling, and more than a little weird”, models are incredibly interesting, SimCity, Civilization, Microcosmic God by Theodore Sturgeon, John Scalzi, The Android’s Dream, Agent To The Stars, Wil Wheaton, Dancing Bearfoot, Just A Geek, Why I Left Harry’s All-Night-Hamburgers by Lawrence Watt-Evans, the SFSignal Mind Meld on the best audiobooks of all time, Scott likes Fantasy (and Science Fiction), Jesse likes Science Fiction (and Fantasy), The Best Fantasy Stories Of The Year 1989, The Wind From A Burning Woman by Greg Bear |READ OUR REVIEW|, The Children Of Men by P.D. James (Recorded Books) |READ OUR REVIEW|, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, Mind Slash Matter by Edward Wellen (Durkin Hayes) |READ OUR REVIEW|, Friday by Robert A. Heinlein, Sci-Fi Private Eye ed. Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg (Dercum Audio) |READ OUR REVIEW|, Martian Time Slip by Philip K. Dick (Blackstone Audio) |READ OUR REVIEW|, Ringworld by Larry Niven |READ OUR REVIEW|, The Reel Stuff edited by Brian Thomsen and Martin H. Greenberg |READ OUR REVIEW|, Minority Report And Other Stories by Philip K. Dick |READ OUR REVIEW|, Two Plays For Voices by Neil Gaiman (Seeing Ear Theatre / Harper Audio) |READ OUR REVIEW|, The Terminal Experiment by Robert J. Sawyer |READ OUR REVIEW|, Ender’s Game (25th Anniversary Edition) by Orson Scott Card |READ OUR REVIEW|, The Dark Worlds Of H.P. Lovecraft Volume 1 by H.P. Lovecraft (Audio Realms) |READ OUR REVIEW|, The Chief Designer by Andy Duncan (Infinivox) |READ OUR REVIEW|, Blake’s 7 – Audio Adventures (Trilogy Box Set) (B7 Media) |READ OUR REVIEW|, The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman |READ OUR REVIEW|, Earth Abides by George R. Stewart |SFFaudio Podcast #073|, The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison |READ OUR REVIEW| The Prestige by Christopher Priest |READ OUR REVIEW|, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card |READ OUR REVIEW|, The Reapers Are The Angels by Alden Bell |READ OUR REVIEW|, Legends: Stories by the Masters of Fantasy, Volume 4 (containing The Hedge Knight by George R.R. Martin) |READ OUR REVIEW|, The Voice from the Edge Vol. 1: I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison |READ OUR REVIEW|, Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast by Eugie Foster |READ OUR REVIEW|, Lawrence Santoro, Ray Bradbury and Harlan Ellison are their own genre, The Moon Moth, sociological Science Fiction, the George R.R. Martin Dreamsongs collections, Stephen King, Anne McCaffrey’s The Runners Of Pern, Jesse is reading a lot of comics, the Fresh Ink Online podcast, G4 vs. G4TechTV, Attack Of The Show, Penn Jillette’s video podcast, sound seeing tours (a now defunct trend in podcasting), Blair Butler, Tamahome2000, Goodreads.com, Neil Gaiman, Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader?, getting into comics, Garth Ennis, Gregg Rucka, Cory Doctorow’s praise of Y: The Last Man on BoingBoing.net, Y: The Last Man is really addictive, Kansas, Batwoman: Elegy, Rachel Maddow,

Movie TrailersMovies Blog

Video GamesE3 2011Fresh Ink

Posted by Jesse Willis

New Releases: For The Win by Cory Doctorow

May 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: New Releases 

SFFaudio Online Audio

I really enjoyed Cory Doctorow’s novel Little Brother |READ OUR REVIEW|, and I am looking forward to reading his latest novel For The Win.

LISTENING LIBRARY - For The Win by Cory DoctorowFor The Win
By Cory Doctorow; Read by George Newbern
CDs – Approx. 16.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Listening Library
Published: May 11, 2010
ISBN: 0307710696
Listen to a sample |MP3|
At any hour of the day or night, millions of people around the globe are engrossed in multiplayer online games, questing and battling to win virtual gold, jewels, and precious artifacts. Meanwhile, millions of “gold farmers” toil in electronic sweatshops harvesting virtual treasure that their employers sell to First World gamers for real money. Mala is a brilliant fifteen-year-old from rural India whose leadership skills in virtual combat have earned her the nickname “General Robotwalla.” In China, Matthew defies his former bosses to build his own gold-farming crew. Leonard lives in Southern California and spends his nights fighting virtual battles alongside his buddies in Asia. All of these young people, and more, become entangled with the mysterious woman called Big Sister Nor, who builds them into a movement to challenge the status quo. Fighting pitched battles in the virtual worlds of every MMORPG worth playing, Nor’s network of gamers is so successful that it incurs ruthless opposition. Ultimately, Big Sister’s people devise a plan to crash the economy of every virtual world at once—a Ponzi scheme combined with a brilliant hack that ends up being the biggest, funnest game of all.

Doctorow has read a segment for his podcast |MP3| and another one for an Electronic Frontier Foundation fundraiser |MP3|.

[via SFSignal.com and Open Buddah]

Posted by Jesse Willis

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