The SFFaudio Podcast #077 – READALONG: Strange Case Of Doctor Jekyll And Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

October 11, 2010 by · 7 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #077 – Jesse talks with Julie Davis and audiobook narrator Wayne June about Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case Of Doctor Jekyll And Mr. Hyde.

Talked about on today’s show:
AudiobookCase.com, Fred Godsmark, Audio Realms, Wayne June is “naturally creepy”, narrating audiobooks is hard work, how do you read to people?, word pronunciation and Lovecraft’s invented language, I, Cthulhu by Neil Gaiman, Gaiman is a modern master, The Rats In The Walls by H.P. Lovecraft |READ OUR REVIEW|, devolving and retro-volving and retro-retrogression, “it’s a sentence but what does it mean?”, H. Beam Piper, reading for the ear, reading aloud is a juggling act, physical copies of audiobooks vs. downloads, The Essential Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde: The Definitive Annotated Edition edited Leonard Wolf, Kevin J. Anderson on Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde, as a parable for addiction, the temperance movement, religion, “an almost theological work [or treatise]”, “the war in the members”, Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde as an homunculus, Mr. Utterson, Cain’s heresy: “I am not my brother’s keeper.”, Dickensian writing, Charles Dickens and Henry James, how evil is Mr. Hyde?, what about those vague debaucheries?, the Greek origin of the word “obscene”, Lovecraft’s indescribably unspeakable prose, The Statement Of Randolph Carter by H.P. Lovecraft, The Thing From Another World, Michael Caine and Cheryl Ladd version of Jekyll & Hyde, The Story Of The Door, the difference between doing good and not doing evil, evil as being self-centered (and prideful), natural selection vs. evolution, ladders vs. branches, progression vs. change, evolution vs. free will, the notoriously optimistic Victorians, Alan Moore’s The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The Hulk and Two-Face, Brad Strickland on Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde, Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, Marxist and feminist critiques, BBC Radio 4 radio drama version of Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde, Let The Right One In (movie) vs. Let The Right One In (book), Poole (the butler), Inspector Newcomen, Jekyll (Je-Kill, I-Kill, Jackal), Forrest J. Ackerman‘s real middle name, Geek-ill, Edinburgh, Soho, a “fine bogey dream”, cocaine usage in the 19th century, Markheim by Robert Louis Stevenson, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, The Reapers Are The Angels by Alden Bell, Jayne Slayre (The Literary Classic…with a Bloodsucking Twist) by Charlotte Brontë and Sherri Browning Erwin, Assam And Darjeeling by T.M. Camp |READ OUR REVIEW|, zombies and vampires, The Loving Dead by Amelia Beamer |READ OUR REVIEW|, mindless sexualized creatures, if you were an urban fantasy author what would you bring together and what would your urban fantasy name be?, the science of lycanthropy vs. the science of zombification, airships, Charles de Lint, Emma Bull, Jim Butcher, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, parallel worlds, proto-urban fantasy, Territory by Emma Bull, The Castle In Transylvania by Jules Verne, Melville House books, translated by Charlotte Mandel, can you do a Transylvanian accent?, Amy H. Sturgis, calling Jules Verne a Science Fiction writer is probably inaccurate, Around The World In Eighty Days by Jules Verne, Phileas Fogg is the most English of all Englishmen, The Vampyre by John William Polidori, Ken Rusell’s Gothic, Switzerland, The Narrative Of Arthur Gordon Pym by Edgar Allan Poe, the strange case of Strange Case, “it’s full of Octobery goodness.”

Airmont - Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Classics Illustrated - Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde

Dr. Jekyl And Mr. Hyde - Chapter 9 - The Transformation In Dr. Lanyon's Office - illustration by William Hole

The Twilight Zone 14 - Robert Louis Stevenson

Guy Deal illustration of Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde
Guy Deal illustration of Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde
Guy Deal illustration of Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde
Guy Deal illustration of Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel

January 26, 2010 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon HaleSkybreakerSFFaudio Essential
By Kenneth Oppel; Read by a full cast
10 CDs – 11.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Full Cast Audio
Published: 2008
ISBN: 9781934180150
Themes: / Fantasy / Airships / Adventure / Parallel World / Romance / Alternate History / Zoology / Paris / Pirates / Parkour /

High in the sky, far above the normal lanes of travel, drifts a ghost ship carrying unbelievable treasure. Matt Cruise, hero of the wildly popular Airborn, is on the trail of that treasure, with the help of his charming society friend Kate de Vries and a mysterious gypsy girl named Nadira. With them flies Hal Slater, roguish captain of a boldly designed Skybreaker aircraft that can reach heights previously undreamed of. But between Matt and his destination stand ruthless pirates, and an even more ruthless businessman. And what Matt’s crew will find when they finally do reach the Hyperion is far more valuable, far more exciting, and far more dangerous than they ever imagined.

Do you love airships? I know I do. If I had my way I’d double the number of all science fiction and fantasy novels being written with airships. This one, set shortly after the events of Airborn |READ OUR REVIEW|, stars our returning hero Matt Cruse. At the opening of Skybreaker Matt has been attending the world’s premier airship academy in Paris. This last semester his practicum began as assistant navigator on an old cargo airship called the Flotsam. And it’s there, whilst high over the Indian Ocean, that Matt, and the crew of the Flotsam, spot a famous ghost airship called the Hyperion. Supposedly the Hyperion is loaded with the treasures of it’s notorious billionaire inventor (kind of a cross between Howard Hughes and Thomas Edison). Upon his return to Paris, Matt discovers there are several interested parties desirous of the Hyperion’s last known coordinates. Fatefully, this is information that now only Matt knows! Determined to cash in on the knowledge and hunt down the Hyperion’s treasure Matt teams up with a rougish sky-captain named Hal Slater. Slater is the owner of a recently commissioned “skybreaker” called the Sagarmāthā. (which is the nepalese name for Mount Everest). Skybreakers are high performance, high altitude airships. Matt will need one just like it to reach the high drifting Hyperion. But Matt won’t be alone as Paris is full of both dangers and would-be competitors in the hunt for Hyperion. And what kind of a novel set in Paris would be complete without some Parkour? Kenneth Oppel doesn’t disappoint there. When Matt meets Nadira, a girl wjho quite literally holds the key to the Hyperion’s treasure, the first thing do together is jump around, off buildings, running away from some bad dudes.

One thing to bear in mind while reading this fast paced adventure, Kenneth Oppel is far less interested in the rigors of telling a scientifically plausible story than in getting on with the storytelling itself. Despite this Skybreaker does have some rudimentary science in it, notably in the areas of fluid physics (displacement), biology (human adaptability to high altitude) and even some of the zoological sciences. And though the story contains no magic it is probably still best classified as a Fantasy novel due to some very unscientific realities. The lifting gas employed in the Skybreaker universe, for example, is non-flammable (like helium gas), naturally scented of mango (like no high lifting gas on our periodic table), naturally occurring (from deep within the earth and in some animals biologically) and absolutely non-existent in our universe. Some inventions that are featured in the story are not only implausible, but also long discredited in our reality (notably Phrenology). On the plus side it contains a fun Parkour sequence fairly early in the novel. Parkouring-up a scene like that is really cool. Thanks Mr. Oppel!

As with every Full Cast Audio production that I’ve hear I come away from the novel forgetting that it is an audiobook. Skybreaker feels like a full blown audio drama. This is a rather odd realization. There are no sound effects that would normally be created for an audio drama production – they are merely described by the narrator using the actual words written by Kenneth Oppel. One technical difference in the production, as compared with Airborn is what sounds like a bit more bed music. The actors who performed in the first book in this series all return, reprising their roles as appropriate but there are some new actors too. The addition of Hal Slater, for example, is a fine one, voiced by Mark Holt, he comes off very Han Solo-ish. The actress playing Nadira, Ailsa McCaughrean, would be a fine additon to future FCA productions, she portrays a young, brash and impulsive young woman. The actors playing the Sherpas, the crew of the Sagarmatha, present what sounds to my ears as a distinct and possibly even authentic accent. Malcolm Ingram, who plays a villonous sky-pirate turned sky-mercenary sounds a bit like Sean Connery. David Kelly (Matt) and Mark Holt (Hal) even have a chance to sing a sea-shanty turned sky-shanty. This is an aurally rich production that’s a must listen for any fan of airshippery and piratical daring do.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Yabba Habba – The Subtle Knife

December 30, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

BBC Radio 7 - BBC7 The Subtle Knife
His Dark Materials – 2 of 3
By Phillip Pullman
Dramatized by Lavinia Murray
Saturday January 3
9am, 8pm and 3am GMT

Full cast audioplay: Philip Pullman‘s award winning epic trilogy continues. 12 year-old Will escapes Oxford into the parallel world of Cittagazze, where he meets Lyra. Together they acquire the most powerful weapon in all the Universes – The Subtle Knife. With Emma Fielding and Ray Fearon.

BBC7 | The Subtle Knife | Schedules (stays online for 6 days)

Listen to part one, Northern Lights (The Golden Compass), here through Friday January 2.

Posted by RC of Radio Tales of the Strange & Fantastic

Review of Airborn by Kenneth Oppel

February 13, 2007 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Reviews, SFFaudio essential 

SFFaudio Audiobook Review

FULL CAST AUDIO Audibook: Airborn by Kenneth OppelAirbornSFFaudio Essential
By Kenneth Oppel; Performed by a FULL CAST
10 CDs – 10.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Full Cast Audio
Published: 2006
ISBN: 1933322543
Themes: / Fantasy / Parallel World / Alternate History / Airships / Swashbuckling / Pirates /

…the pirate airship was already adjusting its course, keeping pace, and as it forced us closer to the waves, we would have less space to manoeuvre. There was a great flash from the pirate ship’s underbelly and a thunderous volley of cannon fire scorched the night sky across our bow.

A voice carried by bullhorn shuddered the air. “Put your nose to the wind and cut speed.”

The story of Airborn is told by 15 year old Matt Cruse, a lowly cabin boy on the a ziz-like commercial airship called the Aurora, primarily used as a passenger liner, the Aurora also carries industrial an commercial goods between continents. Matt was actually born in the air and dreams of becoming an officer one day, not only to further his career as an airman but also to better support his family back home. One day, while aloft and on watch, Matt spies a damaged hot air balloon drifting in the South Pacificus. Only Matt’s natural aptitude in the rigging can save the dying man carried in it. When Matt rescues him the feverish old man’s words are of an amazing, and highly improbable creature he’d spotted in the sky. A year or so later, young Kate de Vries, who was granddaughter to the hot-air balloonist, comes aboard the Aurora. Kate herself has dreams of following in her grandfather’s flightpath and becoming a famous naturalist. They might never have discovered her grandfather’s secret though, had it not been for sudden and vicious pirate raid lead by the legendary air-pirate Szpirglas (pronounced Spear-glass). After the attack and crash-landed on an uncharted island off the regular air-routes it is up to Matt to discover the secret of Kate’s grandfather, repair the damaged airship along with the crew and win the heart of Kate herself. If Matt can just pull it all together he might even live long enough to attend the Air Academy and become a officer.

This is a simple, almost classically structured, juvenile adventure story in the Heinleinian tradition. What is so different about this novel is that it isn’t set in a familiar setting – no spaceships and farm boys here, instead we have an alternate history/alternate universe tale, set on Earth, but an Earth which has place names subtly altered (The city of Vancouver is called Lionsgate City, the Pacific ocean is the Pacificus). Most importantly a flourishing airship economy has made the world of Airborn a cross between a benign steampunk world and pneumatic tube etherland of alternate science and technology. The successful airships industry is buoyed not by helium or hydrogen but instead by a mango scented and plentiful noncombustible gas: hydrium. Also in use are ornithopters, which are a fun but failed technology in our world, though they seem to serve well enough in Airborn, at least for short hops. The world’s extant empires are all subtly altered too, it appears that the expansive British Empire centered in “Angleterre, is tempered, perhaps by a more vigorous Germanic or French empire? North America itself is cut-up into “Kanada” and the “American Colonies”. The Aurora itself though is the primary setting of the novel. As a commercial passenger airship it is based out of Lionsgate City (Vancouver) and plies the airways of the Pacific to Sydney, Siberia and beyond.

There is a tremendous difference between a FULL CAST reading and a regular audiobook. A full cast audiobook, and by that I mean a FULL CAST AUDIO production, is as close to an audio drama as you can get without actually becoming a dramatization. Each character has his or her own actor, this along with descriptive text and punctuating music transmogrifies the unabridged words into vibrant mental images. I’d be willing to bet that if you were to hook-up a person listening to Airborn to a Functional Magnetic Resonating Imaging machine the FMRI would show tremendous activity in the visual cortex. There is a sequel, called Skybreaker in the release pipeline coming from Full Cast Audio, if it lives up to the standard set in writing and production it will be an SFFaudio Essential too.