Review of The Year’s Top Short SF Novels 6

December 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
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SFFaudio Review

The Year's Top Short SF Novels 6The Year’s Top Short SF Novels 6
Edited by Allan Kaster; Narrated by Tom Dheere and Nancy Linari
16 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Infinivox
Publication Date: December 2016
Themes: / Science Fiction / Novellas / The Moon / Time / Clones / Starships /

The Year’s Top Short SF Novels 6, edited by Allan Kaster, is an audio anthology containing five science fiction novellas from 2015. It’s a diverse, entertaining, and thought-provoking collection, and very well narrated!

Inhuman Garbage by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
I’ve enjoyed Rusch’s Disappeared series since the first novella was published (The Retrieval Artist, 2000). I haven’t the time to keep up with all the novels Rusch has written in the series since but every one I have read has been excellent, including this short one. In a warehouse in a city on the Moon in Rusch’s robust future world, a body has been discovered in a recycling crate. Detective Noelle DeRicci is called in on the case. The story is a perfect blend of SF and mystery fiction.

What Has Passed Shall in Kinder Light Appear by Bao Shu (translated by Ken Liu)
This was an interesting thought experiment. We humans live our lives in a linear fashion, cause preceding effect after effect after effect. The story attempts to portray people living linearly, but in reverse. We see history passing backwards as characters live their lives. Interesting.

The New Mother by Eugene Fischer
Imagine a disease with an effect that allows women to reproduce without men. Offspring are clones, since the genetic material has only one source. Men are no longer part of the process. The idea of men becoming extinct brings past stories to mind, like James Tiptree Jr’s “The Screwfly Solution”. The New Mother is a story that leaves the listener with a lot to think about.

Gypsy by Carter Scholz
I was fascinated by this story about a group of people that decide to take it upon themselves to build a ship, get aboard, and launch to Alpha Centauri. The story is told by various characters who wake up from their long sleeps to do various tasks. How did such a group pull this off? And how far can the group get? Well-written, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Citadel of Weeping Pearls by Aliette de Bodard
There is a lot going on in this novella, the longest in the collection. A rich and interesting culture. Mindships, where minds are installed in and control ships. Uploaded minds of previous emperors that serve as advisors to the current emperor. Terrific. Just a beautiful story.

This anthology is also available as an ebook.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

The SFFaudio Podcast #327 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Moon-Bog by H.P. Lovecraft

July 27, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #327 – The Moon-Bog by H.P. Lovecraft; read by Martin Reyto courtesy of Legamus. This is an unabridged reading of the short story (24 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse Willis, Seth Wilson, Jim Moon, and Juan Luis Pérez.

Talked about in this episode:
Title has a hyphen; published in Weird Tales in June 1926, but written for a St. Patrick’s Day event; most critics dismiss the story; most characters are nameless; no Cthulhu mythos; Greek ties to Lovecraft’s The Tree; H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast; thematic similarities to The Rats in the Walls and Hypnos; conflict between the bog goddess and her servants; frogs; moonbeams; Greek Pan pipes, not Celtic pipes; on the story’s un-Irishness; competing models of colonization; Protestant work ethic; Pied Piper of Hamelin; surviving narrator motif similar to Ishmael in Moby Dick; departure from the traditional Lovecraftian narrator; the poetry of Lovecraft’s prose, alliteration, etc.; Lovecraft’s Supernatural Horror in Literature; spoiler in Weird Tales art; the joys of reading aloud; Lovecraft’s Dunsanian story The Festival; architecture; Tolkien’s Dead Marshes and the gothic symbolism of bogs, etc.; Lovecraft’s descriptionn of cities in The Mountains of Madness and landscapes in The Dunwich HorrorThe Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and similar impressionism in film; The Quest of Iranon; unreliable narrators à la Edgar Allan Poe, especially The Fall of the House of Usher; laughing; bog draining and the curse of the Tiddy Mun; the city of Bath and the intersection of Roman and Celtic cultures; John Buchan’s The Grove of Ashtaroth; this is actually a happy Lovecraft story!; Robin Hood and the defense of the land; humans destroy megafauna; Lovecraft’s The Hound; American horror trope of the Indian burial ground; the lack of Celtic mythology; will-o’-the-wisps; how does one drain a bog? Ask the Dutch; disappointment in scientific explanation for stories; the ruins and the Gothic tradition.

The Moon-Bog by H.P. Lovecraft

The Moon Bog by H.P. Lovecraft - illustrated by Jesse

Providence, Issue 10, The Moon-Bog by H.P. Lovecraft - illustrated by Raulo Cáceres

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Voyage by Stephen Baxter

May 19, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
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Science Fiction Audio Drama - Voyage by Stephen BaxterVoyage
By Stephen Baxter; Directed/Produced by Dirk Maggs, Performed by a Full Cast
2 Cassettes – 2 hours [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: BBC Audiobooks
Published: May 1999
ISBN: 0563552417
THEMES: / Science Fiction / Alternate History / Space Program / Mars / Moon / Politics /

Voyage is a work of alternate history, in which the seed is President John F. Kennedy’s survival of the attempted assassination in Dallas in 1963. The impact of this historical change on the United States Space Program is the focus of the story.

In one of the many striking scenes in this audio drama, a wheelchair bound Kennedy joins president Nixon in the Oval Office in sending a message of congratulations to Neil Armstrong and crew during the first moon landing. But Kennedy takes it a little farther than a simple greeting – he challenges humanity to go farther. He challenges NASA to send people to Mars. Nixon at first is appalled, then goes along with the program after an aide tells him the voters love the idea.

The story is about the struggle from that point on to send people to Mars, building up to and including the story of Project Ares, which lifts off in 1986 with a three-person crew headed for Mars.

Dirk Maggs directed the production which was absolutely first-rate. I put on a pair of headphones and was instantly taken away to this alternate history. I enjoyed every minute of it. I’d even go so far as to say that it solidified the power of audio drama to my ears – I couldn’t help but to think of the many excellent works of science fiction that could – and SHOULD – be done in this medium.

I also agree with the message of the story. It’s a unconscionable that humanity reached the moon 35 years ago and has gone nowhere since. Let’s get on with our own history!

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Have Spacesuit, Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein

March 12, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
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Science Fiction Audiobooks - Have Spacesuit Will Travel by Robert A. HeinleinHave Spacesuit, Will Travel
By Robert A. Heinlein; Performed By A Full Cast
8 CDs – 8 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Published by Full Cast Audio
Published: 2003
ISBN: 1932076417
Themes: / Science Fiction / Young Adult / The Moon / Galactic Civilization /

One minute Kip Russell was walking about in his backyard, testing out an old space suit and dreaming about going to the Moon — and the next he was out cold, the captive of an insidious space pirate. The whole thing seemed like a bad dream until Kip discovered there were other prisoners on board, and they were all on their way to the Moon — and a fate worse than death!

When Kip Russell wins a runner’s up prize in a soap jingle contest, an intergalactic journey to decide the fate of humanity results. Kip goes from soda jerk to spacesuit winner to alien abductee. Along the way Kip is joined by a pint-sized genius named PeeWee and an empathetic alien known as “the Mother Thing” who together must overcome the alien invaders who want to colonize the Earth. A far-fetched Hard Science Fiction story chock full of pathos and fun! First published in 1958, Have Spacesuit, Will Travel was nominated for a Hugo Award and has steadily remained in print for over 45 years. Though originally marketed as a book for teenage boys, it has found legions of admirers in many other age groups since then. I personally know of a high school English teacher who still uses it to get his students interested in reading! And like most science fiction fans, Robert Heinlein’s juvenile novels hold a special place in my own pantheon of SF novels. They speak to the excitable youth in us like few other books do.

When I heard about this particular adaptation I was skeptical. It uses multiple actors, music, and sound effects – this all sounded more like a radio dramatization to me than a straight reading. I’ve been disappointed by many audio dramatizations, I’ve found they often try to “improve” the text and end up cutting it to shreds. I figure you don’t mess with perfection, its just asking for trouble. Well the folks at FULL CAST AUDIO have messed with perfection and come away like heroes! This is a faithful adaptation. The only differences between a straight unabridged reading and this production are a few attributives, the “he said” and “she saids” that are redundant with either a versatile single performer or a full cast of actors. The acting is uniformly excellent, the original music and special voice effects enhance their performance. In short, this production truly shines. But that’s not all. The attention to detail found in the audio production extends to the fit and finish of the packaging. The original cover art is really great, rivaling the superb Del Rey paperback cover art. The CD case too is remarkable… it’s a new design and I’d never seen anything like it before. It resembles a thick DVD style case, with the CDs stacked and held in place by two durable plastic clamps – a space saving and efficient design that also pleases the eye. This audiobook is pure unpasteurized goodness and I truly hope FULL CAST AUDIO does some more Heinlein juvenile novels just like it. Have FULL CAST AUDIO, will listen!

Review of Green Hills of Earth / Gentlemen, Be Seated by Robert A. Heinlein

May 6, 2003 by · 1 Comment
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SFFaudio Review

Green Hills of Earth/Gentlemen Be Seated by Robert A. Heinlein, read by Leonard Nimoy, Caedmon, 1977

Let me pray for one last landing
On the globe that gave me birth
Let me rest my eyes
On the fleecy skies
And the cool, green hills of Earth.

–Robert A. Heinlein’s Rhysling

I type that from memory, hearing Leonard Nimoy’s voice in my mind’s ear. These two stories make my favorites list probably for nostalgic reasons, though Leonard Nimoy is an excellent narrator. This was one of the first audiobooks I listened to as a youth – it was one of the tapes in my local library’s small collection. I found it one day while looking through the few old time radio cassettes. This was also my first exposure to Robert A. Heinlein, and I was hooked. I was struck (and still am) by Heinlein’s ability to make his future so normal to all the people in it.

The story of Rhysling, blind singer of the spaceways, was on one side of the cassette, and the story of a reporter’s dangerous lunar adventure was on the other. A top-notch performance from Nimoy made this a gem that I’ve enjoyed many many times. I have no idea where to find copies of this now. If anyone does, please let me know.