The SFFaudio Podcast #096

February 21, 2011 by · 8 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #096 – Scott and Jesse talk about recently arrived audiobooks as well as Y: The Last Man, James Tiptree Jr., Isaac Asimov, what author estates want and more!

Talked about on today’s show:
Kage Baker, Subterranean Press, Blackstone Audio, In The Garden Of Iden by Kage Baker, Captive Market by Philip K. Dick, Janan Raouf, Time For The Stars by Robert A. Heinlein, Barret Whitener, telepathy, Starman’s Quest by Robert Silverberg, For Us The Living: A Comedy Of Customs by Robert A. Heinlein, Malcolm Hillgartner, Heinlein’s first and last novel, Spider Robinson, Variable Star by Robert A. Heinlein and Spider Robinson, Job: A Comedy Of Justice, Macmillan Audio, Death Cloud: Sherlock Holmes The Legend Begins by Andrew Lane, Dan Wyman, “endorsed by the Conan Doyle estate” = who cares, Poul Anderson on Sherlock Holmes, Laird of Muck, disabled protagonists, The Lighthouse Land by Adrian McKinty, The Lighthouse War, MG (middle grade) vs. YA, Gerard Doyle, Christopher Paolini, The Gods Of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, William Dufris, viscous plant men, does Deja Thoris lay eggs?, Dynamite Entertainment‘s Warlord Of Mars, Valentine Pontifex by Robert Silverberg, Majipoor Chronicles, Lord Valentine’s Castle, Stonefather by Orson Scott Card |READ OUR REVIEW|, Emily Janice Card, The Geek’s Guide To The Galaxy, The Lost Gate, The Last Airbender, R.L. Stine, Timescape by, Darkside by Tom Becker |READ OUR REVIEW|, Bolinda Audio, London, Neil Gaiman-esque, The Graveyard Book, Venus by Ben Bova |READ OUR REVIEW|, Fantastic Audio, Jupiter, Nova Science Now, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Europa, Ganymede, A Stainless Steel Rat Is Born, Brilliance Audio, The Elvenbane by Andre Norton and Mercedes Lackey, dragons, elves, Odalisque by Neal Stephenson, Alan Moore loves allusions, The League Of Extraordinary Gentleman, Snow Crash, The Diamond Age, Honor Harrington, Honor Among Enemies by David Weber, manticore, pirates!, what’s up with all the mix-and-match creatures in the Middle East?, On Blazing Wings by L. Ron Hubbard, mercenaries, SFsite.com often reviews the L. Ron Hubbard Stories From The Golden Age, the paperbooks problem, The Unremembered by Peter Orullian, Anne Perry, The Desert Of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones, 8th century, Baghdad, The Desert Of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones, the Fantasy Book Critic blog review, unpronounceable character names, J.R.R. Tolkien, Philip K. Dick was inspired by the Odyssey, Beyond Lies The Wub, Strange Eden, Scott didn’t like Y: The Last Man, Brian K. Vaughan, Gulliver’s Travels, the problem of transitory pop-culture references, The Tyrrany Of Talented Readers, Scalped, Bertrand Russell, Pride Of Baghdad, anthropomorphic fiction, James Tiptree Jr., Her Smoke Rose Up Forever, Masters Of Horror: The Screwfly Solution, Dove Audio, Isaac Asimov, author estates, Escape Pod #100, Nightfall, Tantor Media, Robots Of Dawn, Audible.com has plenty of Arthur C. Clarke, Dream Park by Larry Niven and Steve Barnes, mystery, Science Fiction, On Stranger Tides, Brain Wave, PaperbackSwap, Del Rey art in the ’70s and ’80s was awesome, Scott’s Picasa gallery of book covers, Tom Weiner, Jesse has a terrible memory, our Oath Of Fealty readalong, the Pirates Of The Caribbean films.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Vampire$ by John Steakley

June 13, 2010 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Reviews, SFFaudio essential 

SFFaudio Review

Horror Audiobook - Vampire$ by John SteakleySFFaudio EssentialVampire$
By John Steakley; Read by Tom Weiner
10 CDs – Approx. 10 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2010
ISBN: 1441727213
Themes: / Horror / Vampires / Religion / Catholicism / Mercenaries /

Suppose there really were vampires. Dark, stalking, destroying. They’d have to be killed, wouldn’t they? Of course they would. But what kind of fools would try to make a living at it? In best-selling author John Steakley’s vampire classic, one tightly knit band of brothers devotes itself to hunting down the monsters that infest the modern world—for a price. An exciting blend of horror and western genres, Vampire$ is a twenty-first-century Ghostbusters with an edge.

I first found out about John Steakley when watching John Carpenter’s Vampire$. The on screen accreditation didn’t mean much then. I figured that what goodness was found in that movie came from Carpenter. And that’s largely true. Their rather different in plot, or at least in the way the plot plots out. Its clear that John Steakey’s novel served more as the inspiration than a blueprint for the movie. The novel feels much richer, much wider, and also much more personal, than Carpenter’s version.

Now, having read this audiobook after John Steakley’s other novel, Armor |READ OUR REVIEW|, I’ve come to the conclusion that Steakley has a pattern or two. First up there’s the name thing. Two names are recycled from Armor (even though they aren’t the same characters). Felix, the gunslinger (and ex-drug trafficker) has an important role in Vampire$. Jack Crow, the lead vampire hunter, is arguably the main protagonist. Armor, which is set maybe a thousand years in the future, has two characters with those exact names too, and they play similar importance in the plot. This is a novel full of twists and turns that even a fan of the movie based on the novel can be surprised by Similarwise, the emotional impact is the primacy of the novel’s power. Sure, this novel has maybe a few innovations I’ve never read before:

1. God is real AND vampires are too.
2. A team of mercenaries, with pure hearts, are taking cash for cleaning up vampire infested towns.
3. The anti-vamp mercs are in league with the Pope and the Vatican, who know and support their efforts.

Narrator Tom Weiner gets to play a fairly wide range of characters. On top of the brooding Felix and the unstoppable Jack Crow he’s got a compassionate pope, an irate Texas sheriff, and a bloodsucking vampire (or two) too.

This is a case where a good movie was based on an very good novel and a good novel got made into a great audiobook. Vampire$ is an emotionally impactive audiobook that surprises with its innovate approach to an old foe: those old evil vampires fucks that you gotta love, and Jack Crow’s gotta hate.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Aural Noir Review of Gentlemen Of The Road by Michael Chabon

May 31, 2010 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Aural Noir, Reviews 

Aural Noir: Review

RANDOM HOUSE AUDIO - Gentleman Of The Road by Michael ChabonGentlemen Of The Road: A Tale Of Adventure
By Michael Chabon; Read by Andre Braugher
Audible Download – Approx. 4 Hours 13 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: October 2007
Provider: Audible.com
Themes: / Adventure / Crime / Jewishness / War / Politics / Mercenaries / Con-men / Khazaria /

Gentlemen Of The Road was first published as a serial in The New York Times Magazine. Despite it’s sword and sorcery feel, it is not actually a Fantasy novel, but is instead a “swashbuckling adventure” set in an obscure, but real, historical setting. Its heroes, Amram and Zelikman, are an odd, but vaguely familiar, pair. Familiar in their companionable rivalry and clearly inspired by Fritz Leiber’s famed pair of characters: Fafhrd and Grey Mouser. But, instead of one being a short, urban thief and the other a hulking Northern barbarian, the two are instead the titular gentlemen of the road, wandering Jews, or as Chabon himself states in the audiobook’s afterword “Jews With Swords.” And that’s what was really important in this story; though each of these two Jews looks entirely unalike from the other, they are tied together by far flung tradition, common heritage and similar tales of woe. The larger of the pair is Amram, a swarthy Abyssinian with a penchant for shatranj and quite literally an axe to grind. The slighter and paler of the pair is Zelikman, a fair haired Frank, who far from being a member of the thieves guild is actually a doctor (he wields an “over-sized bloodletting lance as a rapier”). Together they are a neat pair of dark age sell-swords/con-men, working the taverns and inns of southern Eurasia. It is, all in all, one of the neatest set-ups for a book I’ve ever heard. And you couldn’t find a funner fictional premise for illustrating the Jewish diaspora in an adventure novel.

One evening (circa AD 950), a chance encounter at a roadside inn in the kingdom of Aran leads to a body-guard job. The job involves a journey to the neighboring khaganate of Khazaria. Along the way they meet many a fellow road traveler and have some less than polite encounters. Eventually, Amram and Zelikman (A & Z) find themselves fully entangled in a rebellion and plot aimed at restoring a displaced Khazar prince to the throne.

Narrator Andre Braugher is a television actor that I’ve admired since his portrayal of the unwaveringly professional detective Frank Pembelton on Homicide: Life on The Street. Braugher has a powerful voice that he uses to deliver Chabon’s ornately constructed descriptive scenes and dialogue. You can tell, with every sentence of Braugher’s delivery, that Chabon loves language. I thoroughly enjoyed the book after I got into it. But it wasn’t easy, I really had to shift gears. This is embellished storytelling, it feels both old-fashioned and unrepentantly ostentatious. It has very little of the usual fantasy stylings, it dumps any ordinary flat or prosaic description in favour of the deliberately lavish. Once I did get into it, I loved it. There’s a lot of detail to enjoy here. Chabon’s hulking Abyssinan, for instance, has a battle-axe. He gained it after combat with the Varangian Guard in Byzantium. A runic inscription on it roughly translates into “defiler of your mother.” Another writer would have done it another way – another writer wouldn’t have done it at all. This is what makes Chabon, his books and this novella in particular so special.

Sadly, the audiobook lacks the map and the 15 terrific black and white illustrations (by Gary Gianni ) found in the paperbook. Here is a peek at both:

Gentlemen Of The Road - MAP

Gentlemen Of The Road - PAGE 161

Posted by Jesse Willis