Review of Earth Unaware by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston

August 12, 2012 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audiobook - Earth Unaware by Orson Scott Card and Aaron JohnstonEarth Unaware
By Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston
Read by Stefan Rudnicki, Stephen Hoye, Arthur Morey, Vikas Adam, Emily Janice Card, Gabrielle de Cuir, and Roxanne Hernandez
14 Hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Published: 2012
Themes: / Science Fiction / Solar System / Asteroids / Mining / Gravity / Aliens / Alien invasion /

One of the pleasures of listening to science fiction audiobooks over the years has been hearing Orson Scott Card’s Ender series. Besides being expertly narrated by an ensemble led by Stefan Rudnicki, these audiobooks are entertaining because Card isn’t delivering the same book over and over. In Earth Unaware, Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston take the series in yet another direction.

I know, I know. It’s been proven time after time. When a book series gets to the point where [Original Author] picks up [Insert new author here (often a relative)], the results are just… not good. I’m happy to report that Earth Unaware is an excellent novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Aaron Johnston and Orson Scott Card created and are telling the story of the First Formic War in the comic format. I haven’t read those, so I can’t say how similar this novel is, but Aaron Johnston says in the Afterword that Earth Unaware draws from the characters and events in those comics.

The subtitle (First Formic War) implies that we’re in for a military SF novel, but that’s not what this is. This novel is a tense near-space adventure set in the not too distant future and peopled with characters I cared about. The opening reveals the thoughts and feelings of teenager on the El Calvador, a mining ship in the Kuiper Belt. Close by, on a different ship, is a man who has invested much time and effort into the invention of a gravity laser. He needs to prove his worth to his corporate employer. And back on Earth, an elite military unit is being formed. These lives, some entwined, move forward as normal until all interests are altered in the face of the arrival of an alien ship in the solar system.

Even though the cover doesn’t say it, this is Book 1 of at least a few. I look forward to the continued development of the concept of difference. On Valentine Wiggin’s Hierarchy of Foreignness is Varelse. True aliens, aliens so alien that we can’t even communicate with them or even hope to understand them. How could war with such a race be avoided? Difference also extends to human beings, who seem so content to drop their conflicts in the face of greater danger. Why is that what it takes?

The audiobook is performed by multiple narrators in the style that fits Orson Scott Card’s stories so incredibly well. The narrators (all excellent) change with the POV of the story. Reading the story were: Stefan Rudnicki, Stephen Hoye, Arthur Morey, Vikas Adam, Emily Janice Card, Gabrielle de Cuir, and Roxanne Hernandez. Top notch!


 

 
Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Escape: The Killer Mine based on the novel by Hammond Innes

April 23, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Aural Noir, Online Audio 

Aural Noir: Online Audio

Check out this striking image:

The Killer Mine by Hammond Innes

It’s part of one of the many covers from The Killer Mine by Hammond Innes. Intriguing isn’t it? Here are three more:

The Killer Mine by Hammond Innes

I’ve got a small stack of Hammond Innes paperbacks that I haven’t read. I inherited them from my grandmother and had been looking for an excuse to read one. Now I’ve found one!

In a post over on the Escape-Suspense blog proprietress Christine A. Miller wrote:

Escape’s “The Killer Mine” was adapted from the 1947 novel by English author Hammond Innes (1913-1998). For radio, the story was shortened considerably, and as a result, the high tension of the novel and some of the characters, are missing. If you like this episode, then do yourself a favor and read the book.

The Killer Mine The story is set in England, three years after the end of World War II. Jim Pryce, a miner by trade, but a deserter from the British army, has just returned to England from Italy. He has made his way to the Cornish coast in the hopes of securing a “no questions asked” mining job through his friend, Dave Tanner.

When Jim finds Dave, his friend is in trouble with the law for liquor-running. Nevertheless, Dave follows through on his promise and sends him over to talk to Captain Manack, the owner of a local mine. When he does, Jim discovers that Captain Manack doesn’t want to work the old tin mine for profit, he wants Jim to blow a hole through the top of an undersea shaft and flood it. That way, they can create an underwater entrance for illegal liquor to be unloaded into the mine. Will Jim take the job?

EscapeEscape – The Killer Mine
Based on the novel by Hammond Innes; Adapted by Antony Ellis; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| |MP3| – Approx. 28 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBS Radio
Broadcast: February 11, 1951
Provider: Archive.org Archive.org
“Smuggled illegally into his native land after many years’ absence, army deserter Jim Pryce finds himself deposited on a Cornish beach. Little does he suspect, setting out along the road to Penzance, that he is about to walk straight into a mine disaster, and into a story involving his own history.” Starring: John Dehner, Eileen Erskine, Tony Barrett, Ray Lawrence, Wilms Herbert, Jay Novello, and Lou Krugman.

There is also, if you look hard enough, an out of print unabridged audiobook editon out there.

CHIVERS - The Killer Mine by Hammond InnesThe Killer Mine
By Hammond Innes; Read by Stephen Thorne
6 Cassettes – Approx. 8 Hours 23 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Chivers Audio
Published: 1992
ISBN: 0816132119
On the run, a deserter from the army, Jim Pryce returns to Cornwall. But the familiar places of his childhood are not the welcoming villages they once were. And when the ruthless modern-day smugglers who operate along the deserted coast need his mining expertise, Pryce has no choice but to aid them. The crumbling mine which is his workplace becomes a nightmare killing ground when his usefulness is over. For the smugglers are quite prepared to kill to keep their secrets. And death is the ultimate silence…

[via Escape-Suspense.com]

Posted by Jesse Willis

KUCI Film School: Interview with the director and co-writer of Moon

November 3, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

KUCI - Film SchoolFilm School is a program out of Irvine, California on radio station KUCI. It has an interview with the director and co-writer of the movie called Moon (2009), Duncan Jones. |MP3|

In the interview Jones says the film was inspired by movies like Alien (1979), Silent Running and Outland (1981), as well as by the non-fiction book: Entering Space: Creating a Spacefaring Civilization by Robert Zubrin.

Here is a snippet from Rogert Ebert’s thoughtful review:

“‘Moon‘ is a superior example of that threatened genre, hard science-fiction, which is often about the interface between humans and alien intelligence of one kind of or other, including digital. John W. Campbell Jr., the godfather of this genre, would have approved. The movie is really all about ideas. It only seems to be about emotions. How real are our emotions, anyway? How real are we? Someday I will die.”

I agree. Not only with Ebert being mortal, but also that Moon is a movie of ideas. Moon is a true Science Fiction movie and an intellecutal heir to Blade Runner. It’s made of one part 2001: A Space Odyssey, one part Silent Running, one part The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, with an added dash of Outland (1981) and that is a proud lineage to follow.

Posted by Jesse Willis

LibriVox: King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard

September 13, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Listening For The League's Gentlemen At LibriVoxThis is the first in a series of posts in which I will examine LibriVox’s back catalogue looking for the characters and references that Alan Moore has put into his comic The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen. This, the first post, features Allan Quatermain, adventurer and man of action, in his first novel. This is prior to his descent into a despicable opium addiction. It’s a single voiced narration, and I’ve made some cool cover art for it too.

Read now Haggard’s introduction from the 1898 edition:

“The author ventures to take this opportunity to thank his readers for the kind reception they have accorded to the successive editions of this tale during the last twelve years. He hopes that in its present form it will fall into the hands of an even wider public, and that in years to come it may continue to afford amusement to those who are still young enough at heart to love a story of treasure, war, and wild adventure.”

LibriVox - King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider HaggardKing Solomon’s Mines
By H. Rider Haggard; Read by John Nicholson
20 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 9 Hours 50 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: 2006
King Solomon’s Mines, first published in 1885, was a best-selling novel by the Victorian adventure writer H. Rider Haggard. It relates a journey into the heart of Africa by a group of adventurers led by Allan Quatermain in search of the legendary wealth said to be concealed in the mines of the novel’s title. It is significant as the first fictional adventure novel set in Africa, and is considered the genesis of the Lost World literary genre. – Haggard wrote over 50 books, among which were 14 novels starring Allan Quatermain.

Podcast feed:
http://librivox.org/bookfeeds/king-solomons-mines-by-haggard.xml

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

Here’s the cool map from the back of the Dell Books “mapback” edition:

King Solomon's Mines - Dell Mapback map

Posted by Jesse Willis

LibriVox: Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 016

June 4, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

LibriVox - Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 16Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 016
By various; Read by various
10 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 3 Hours 19 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 2009
Science fiction (abbreviated SF or sci-fi with varying punctuation and case) is a broad genre of fiction that often involves sociological and technical speculations based on current or future science or technology. This is a reader-selected collection of short stories, first published between 1951 and 1962, that entered the US public domain when their copyright was not renewed.

Podcast feed: http://librivox.org/bookfeeds/short-science-fiction-collection-vol-016.xml

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

Astounding Science Fiction June 1959All Day September
By Roger Kuykendall; Read by Bellona Times
1 |MP3| – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 19th, 2009
Some men just haven’t got good sense. They just can’t seem to learn the most fundamental things. Like when there’s no use trying—when it’s time to give up because it’s hopeless…
From Astounding Science Fiction June 1959.

Fantastic Universe January 1954Beyond The Door
By Philip K. Dick; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 14 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 19th, 2009
Did you ever wonder at the lonely life the bird in a cuckoo clock has to lead—that it might possibly love and hate just as easily as a real animal of flesh and blood? Philip Dick used that idea for this brief fantasy tale. We’re sure that after reading it you’ll give cuckoo clocks more respect. From Fantastic Universe January 1954.

Astounding Science Fiction September 1955Blessed Are the Meek
By G.C. Edmondson; Read by M.White
1 |MP3| – Approx. 11 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 19th, 2009
Every strength is a weakness, and every weakness is a strength. And when the Strong start smashing each other’s strength … the Weak may turn out to be, instead, the Wise. This story was first published in the September 1955 issue of Astounding.

Fantastic Universe May 1954The Calm Man
By Frank Belknap Long; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 29 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 19th, 2009
Dip the pen of a Frank Belknap Long into a bottle of ink and the result is always bound to be a scintillating piece of brilliant imaginative science fiction. And he’s done it again in the tortured story of Sally. From Fantastic Universe, May 1954.

Planet Stories January 1954The Crystal Crypt
By Philip K. Dick; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 42 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 19th, 2009
Stark terror ruled the Inner-Flight ship on that last Mars-Terra run. For the black-clad Leiters were on the prowl … and the grim red planet was not far behind. First published in the January 1954 issue of Planet Stories.

Amazing Science Fiction Stories September 1958The Gift Bearer
By Charles L. Fontenay; Read by Bellona Times
1 |MP3| – Approx. 13 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 19th, 2009
This could well have been Montcalm’s greatest opportunity; a chance to bring mankind priceless gifts from worlds beyond. But Montcalm was a solid family man—and what about that nude statue in the park? From Amazing Science Fiction Stories’ September 1958 issue.

Fantastic Universe January 1957Out Of This World Convention
An essay by Forrest J. Ackerman; Read by Jozef Nagy
1 |MP3| – Approx. [CONVENTION REPORT]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 19th, 2009
An eye-witness account of the 14th World Science Fiction Convention in session. First published in Fantastic Universe in January 1957.


Astounding Stories November 1932A Scientist Rises
By D.W. Hall; Read by dana-allen
1 |MP3| – Approx. 18 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 19th, 2009
All gazed, transfixed, at the vast form that
towered above them.
From the November 1932 issue of Astounding Stories.

Fantastic Universe January 1954Texas Week
By Albert Hemhuter; Read by Bellona Times
1 |MP3| – Approx. 11 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 19th, 2009
One of the chief purposes of psychiatry is to separate fantasy from reality. It is reasonable to expect that future psychiatrists will know more about this borderline than the most learned doctors of today. Yet now and again even the best of them may encounter situations that defy all logic. From the January 1954 issue of Fantastic Universe.

Fantastic Universe May 1954Year Of The Big Thaw
By Marion Zimmer Bradley; Read by Greg Weeks
1 |MP3| – Approx. 17 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 19th, 2009
“In this warm and fanciful story of a Connecticut farmer, Marion Zimmer Bradley has caught some of the glory that is man’s love for man—no matter who he is nor whence he’s from. By heck, you’ll like little Matt.”
From the May 1954 issue of Fantastic Universe.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper

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

SFFaudio Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Jesse Willis

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