Review of January Dancer by Michael Flynn

March 4, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

The January Dancer by Michael FlynnThe January Dancer
By Michael Flynn; Read by Stefan Rudnicki
1 MP3-CD or 9 CDs – Approx. 10.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2008
ISBN: 9781433250996 (MP3-CD), 9781433250972 (CD)
Themes: / Science Fiction / Space Opera / Aliens / Space Flight /

Captain Amos January, and crew, are forced to look for ship repair materials on an unknown planet. There they discover an alien ship filled with fascinating artifacts, among them a shape-changing sculpture that becomes known as “The Dancer.” We learn of some of The Dancer’s attributes as known in ancient legends and confirmation is received as we watch the story unfold. It is sought by cabals, pirates, governments, and other powers who unleash different characters to acquire The Dancer. Not unexpectedly these characters are scoundrels, idealists, and romantics whose tracks intersect and form their own sort of dance as they maneuver to best one another. This tale is told to us as a story within a story as a Harper hears the tale, a bit at a time, from the Scarred Man. This is an interesting device as not only are we told the story but Flynn uses the framing story to give us his ideas about storytelling as an art.

It is a trend these days, or so it seems to me, for modern science fiction authors to attempt to write “space opera.” As an aficionado of that subgenre who has recently been browsing among the past masters of the art (in large part thanks to Librivox), my view is that the modern take tends to be drawn-out, unfocused, and sprawling by comparison. Sadly, although I also am an aficionado of Michael Flynn’s work, I believe he has fallen prey to the desire to expand the story past the demands of the genre. The original writers wrote snappy, bold, romantic adventures that did not worry overmuch about expostulation and got to the point. Flynn, on the other hand, gives a bewildering combination of too much philosophical conversation and not enough details about the characters’ lives. There is a plethora of characters as well, almost too many to track, and this often leaves the listener bewildered as to just who has suddenly popped up unexpectedly in a scene. As well, in the last couple of chapters the tone shifts unexpectedly, as if Flynn suddenly was told he had to finish up, and thus the novel swung into abrupt action and snapped out a strangely sparse finale. The revelations were not illogical or even unsatisfying. However, after dragging on and on in the middle of the book it was quite disconcerting to suddenly be flung headlong into the finish in the style of “a shot rang out and everyone fell dead.”

Stefan Rudnicki narrates with his usual expertise, adroitly affecting slight voice changes that communicate character when voicing dialogue. One wishes that the editors had added a slight aural indicator when there were scene changes. In a book of many characters who are flung from one exotic location to another at a second’s notice, it is very difficult to tell when there is a scene change immediately with nothing other than a slight pause between sections. I must also note, that my above complains about Flynn’s book overall may have been due to the fact that a complex book is necessarily more difficult to grasp when listening rather than reading as it was written. In this instance, the editors would have done well to help the listener all they could.

If you are a Michael Flynn fan, this book will not be a complete waste. I did enjoy it initially, but I simply wished it had been truly the space opera that it purported to be.

Note: should readers think that there are no modern writers capable of space opera that is worthy of comparison with those of older times, I refer you to the “Agent of Change” series by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (Agent of Change, Conflict of Honors, Carpe Diem, Plan B, and I Dare) and Space Vulture by Gary K. Wolf and John J. Myers. None of these are in audiobook format that I know of but are well worth seeking out.

Posted by Julie D.

The SFFaudio Podcast #015

December 8, 2008 by · 5 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #015 – On today’s podcast we take you on a merry chase ending with… “governments can do things right.”

Talked about on today’s show:
SFFvideo.com!, The January Dancer, Michael Flynn, Blackstone Audio, Eifelheim, big dumb object (also a website), Earthfall, Orson Scott Card and his interview, the Homecoming Series, the book of Mormon, The Book Of Lies, Brad Meltzer, Ender In Exile, Tor.com podcast, in what order should you read a sprawlling series? answer = publication order, First Meetings, Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, Scott’s story Adrift and my reviewlette of it, MrAudiobook.com/ReQuest Audiobooks, Eye For Eye, Run For The Stars, Harlan Ellison, Tony Smith’s StarShipSofa podcast (roundtable discussion #6), Anathem, Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash, The Diamond Age, Quicksilver, William Dufris, Red Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson, Richard Ferrone, Blue Mars, Green Mars, Cryptonomicon a 1000-page novel, Scott Brick, A History Of English In 28 Minutes, The Hour Of The Dragon podcast, Robert E. Howard, Conan, Already Dead, Charlie Huston, Elantris, Recorded Books’s Sci-Fi Audio imprint, Audible’s RSS feeds, Love In The Time Of Fridges, Tim Scott, Forty Signs Of Rain, The Coming, Joe Haldeman, Elizabeth Bear, Moth Storm: The Horror From Beyond, Philip Reeve, DRM isn’t inherently evil, my solution to the problem = government (libraries), the future of digital distribution, video game models: Battlefield Heroes, Battlefield 2, Sudden Attack, Steam, what if Audible.com went out of business tomorrow?, Starship: Mercenary, Mike Resnick, iTunes, digital estates, abandonware, Steve Feldberg (director of content at Audible.com sez: Mike Resnick’s Starship book 4 is coming to Audible in mid-December! Huzzah!

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #002

September 8, 2008 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe first one they made was so good they recorded a sequel! Indeed, The SFFaudio Podcast #002 is even more blockbustery (with 20% more bluster).

In show double-oh-two Scott D. Danielson and Jesse Willis talk about audiobooks, audio drama, and the correct pronunciation of the word “orgy.” We also talked about Recent Arrivals, New Releases, LibriVox, what we’ve been listening to, and where. It’s a big, big, show!

Topics under discussion include:

The Last Theorem, Carnival, Elizabeth Bear, L. Ron Hubbard, Galaxy Press, Zeppelins, airships, Michael Chabon, our new Publishers page, Grover Gardner, The Number 23, Scott Brick, Paul Of Dune, Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson, The Little Book, Selden Edwards, Brad Meltzer, The Book Of Lies, Superman, Orhan Pamuk, the Entitled Opinions podcast, Turkey, Ottoman Empire, Michael Flynn, Blackstone Audio, The January Dancer, Eifelheim, Podiobooks.com, The Kiribati Test, Jim Thompson, The Grifters, Philip K. Dick, Macmillan Audio, Anathem, Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash, The Diamond Age, Cryptonomicon, Waldentapes, Star Trek, LibriVox, Space Viking, Mark Douglas Nelson, H. Beam Piper (and our new AUTHOR PAGE for him), The Green Odyssey, The Second SFFaudio Challenge, Brandon Sanderson, Orthopedic Horseshoes, Edo van Belkom (he’s the ex-school bus driver), The Accidental Time Machine, Joe Haldeman, The Forever War, “Our Last Words”, Damon Kaswell, time travel, Peter Watts, Blindsight, Recorded Books, the Chinese room argument, artificial intelligence, Spin, Axis, Robert Charles Wilson, Robert J. Sawyer, David Brin, Startide Rising, The Immortal, Roger Zelazny, Audiofile Magazine, George R.R. Martin, A Clash Of Kings, Temüjin, audio drama, Gate, The Sonic Society, Jack J. Ward, Wormwood, acting, Michael Caine, Irwin Allen, The Swarm, Star Wars, Liam Neeson, Thulsa Doom vs. Luke Skywalker, pronunciation, mis-pronunciation, The Savage Sword Of Conan, John Varley, Audible Frontiers.

Subscribe to the feed:

http://www.sffaudio.com/?feed=podcast

Posted by Jesse Willis

New Releases

September 7, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: New Releases 

New Releases

I heard of this author, Orhan Pamuk, through the Entitled Opinions podcast. Looking the novel up on Wikipedia, it appears this is a historical murder mystery set in the Ottoman Empire. But, there are some fantastic elements too.

My Name Is Red by Orhan PamukMy Name Is Red
By Orhan Pamuk; Translated by Erdag Goknar; Read by John Lee
16 CDs – 20 Hours 30 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: September 2008
ISBN: 9780739369241

The Sultan has commissioned a cadre of the most acclaimed artists in the land to create a great book celebrating the glories of his realm. Their task: to illuminate the work in the European style. But because figurative art can be deemed an affront to Islam, this commission is a dangerous proposition indeed. The ruling elite therefore mustn’t know the full scope or nature of the project, and panic erupts when one of the chosen miniaturists disappears. The only clue to the mystery–or crime? –lies in the half-finished illuminations themselves.

Here’s a new space opera title from the author of Eifelheim

The January Dancer by Michael FlynnThe January Dancer
By Michael Flynn; Read by TBA
8 Cassettes, 1 MP3-CD or 9 CDs – Approx. 10.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: September 30th 2008
ISBN: 9781433250965 (cassette), 9781433250996 (mp3-cd), 9781433250972 (cd)
The January Dancer tells the fateful story of an ancient prehuman artifact of great power and of the people who found it. Starting with Captain Amos January, who quickly loses it, and then the others who fought, schemed, and killed to get it, we travel around the complex, decadent, brawling, mongrelized, interstellar human civilization that the artifact might save or destroy. Collectors want the Dancer, pirates take it, rulers crave it, and all will kill, if necessary, to get it. This is a thrilling yarn of love, revolution, music, and mystery, and it ends, as all great stories do, with shock and a beginning.

Podiobooks.com has a new release which has a description designed to make me listen to it: “[A] Kickass scifi and crime fiction collection in the tradition of Philip K. Dick and Jim Thompson.” yum, yum!

Podiobook - The Kiribati Test by Stacey CochranThe Kiribati Test
By Stacey Cochran; Read by Stacey Cochran
6 Short Stories – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Podiobooks.com
Published: September 2008 –

Posted by Jesse Willis

Recent Arrivals – Blackstone Audio strikes again!

July 30, 2007 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Recent Arrivals 

Science Fiction Audiobook Recent Arrivals

A big O’ heap of SFF goodness from Blackstone Audio.

Science Fiction Audiobook - Eifelheim by Michael FlynnEifelheim
By Michael Flynn; Read by Anthony Heald
14 CD, 17.5 hrs – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2007
ISBN: 9781433206115

In 1349, one small town in Germany disappeared and was never resettled. Tom, a contemporary historian, and his theoretical physicist girlfriend, Sharon, become interested. By all logic, the town should have survived, but it didn’t. Why? What was special about Eifelheim that it utterly disappeared more than 600 years ago?

In 1348, as the Black Death is gathering strength across Europe, Father Deitrich is the priest of the village that will come to be known as Eifelheim. A man educated in science and philosophy, he is astonished to become the first contact between humanity and an alien race from a distant star when their interstellar ship crashes in the nearby forest.
Tom, Sharon, and Father Deitrich have a strange and intertwined destiny of tragedy and triumph in this brilliant novel by the winner of the Robert A. Heinlein Award.

Fantasy Fiction Audiobook - The Sharing Knife; Beguilement by Lois McMaster Bujold The Sharing Knife; Vol. 1, Beguilement
By Lois McMaster Bujold; Read by Bernadette Dunne
10 CD, 12 hrs – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2007
ISBN: 9781433206238

Young, pregnant Fawn Bluefield has just fled her family’s farm to the city of Glassforge, where she encounters a patrol of the enigmatic soldier-sorcerers known as Lakewalkers. Fawn has heard stories about the Lakewalkers, wandering necromancers with no permanent homes and no possessions but the clothes they wear and the mysterious knives they carry. What she does not know is that the Lakewalkers are engaged in a perilous campaign against inhuman and immortal magical entities known as “malices”. When Fawn is kidnapped by one of these creatures, it is up to Dag, an older Lakewalker heavy with sorrows and responsibilities, to rescue her. But in the ensuing struggle, it is not Dag but Fawn who kills the creature—at dire cost—and an uncanny accident befalls Dag’s sharing knife, which unexpectedly binds their two fates together.

Science Fiction Audiobook - The Green Trap by Ben Bova The Green Trap
By Ben Bova; Read by Stefan Rudnicki & Kathe Mazure
8 CD, 10 hrs – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2007
ISBN: 9781433206177

Microbiologist Michael Cochrane has been murdered. His brother, Paul, wants to find out who did it and why. It’s clear that Michael was working with cyano-bacteria, the bacteria that crack water molecules and release free oxygen. It’s less clear why this would get anybody killed.

Accompanied by a beautiful industrial spy, Elena Sandoval, Paul follows the trail from California to Cambridge, Massachusetts. Along the way, the truth emerges: Michael had found a way to get cyano-bacteria to crack hydrogen out of simple water molecules, producing enough hydrogen to cleanly power the world, practically for free. No wonder everyone, from Middle-Eastern heavies to hired domestic muscle, suddenly seems to be trying to get in Paul and Elena’s way.

Science Fiction Audiobook - Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney Invasion of the Body Snatchers
By Jack Finney; Read by Kristoffer Tabori
6 CD, 6.5 hrs – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2007
ISBN: 9780786157815

“I warn you that what you’re starting to read is full of loose ends and unanswered questions….Now if you don’t like that kind of story, I’m sorry, and you’d better not read it. All I can do is tell what I know.”—from the book

On a quiet fall evening in the small, peaceful town of Mill Valley, California, Dr. Miles Bennell discovered an insidious, horrifying plot. Silently, subtly, almost imperceptibly, alien life-forms were taking over the bodies and minds of his neighbors, his friends, his family, the woman he loved—the world as he knew it.

First published in 1955, this classic thriller of the ultimate alien invasion and the triumph of the human spirit over an invisible enemy inspired the acclaimed 1956 film, directed by Don Siegel and starring Kevin McCarthy, one of Time magazine’s 100 Best Films.

Science Fiction Audiobook - Where's My Jetpack? by Daniel H. Wilson  Where’s My Jetpack?
By Daniel H. Wilson; Read by Stefan Rudnicki
3 CD, 3 hrs – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2007
ISBN: 9780786160822

A Guide to the Amazing Science Fiction Future That Never Arrived

It’s the twenty-first century and let’s be honest—things are a little disappointing. Despite every World’s Fair prediction and the advertisements in comic books, we are not living the future we were promised. By now, life was supposed to be a fully automated, atomic-powered, germ-free Utopia, a place where a grown man could wear a velvet spandex unitard and not be laughed at. Where are the ray guns, the flying cars, and the hoverboards that we expected? What happened to our moon colonies and servant robots?

In Where’s My Jetpack? roboticist Daniel H. Wilson takes a hilarious look at the future we imagined for ourselves. You will learn which technologies are already available, and if the technology is not public, you will learn how to build, buy, or steal it. Where’s My Jetpack? is an entertaining look at the world that we always wanted.

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