Reading, Short And Deep #024 – Living Space by Isaac Asimov

July 20, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #024

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss Living Space by Isaac Asimov

Living Space was first published in The Original Science Fiction Stories, May 1956.

Here’s a link to the PDF of the story.

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of The Gunslinger by Stephen King

March 20, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews, Uncategorized 

SFFaudio Review

*Introducing one of our new reviewers – Rob Z. While he waits for his first audiobooks to review for SFF Audio, we thought we’d tide you over with one of his favorite audiobook reviews.*

The Gunslinger by Stephen KingThe Gunslinger (The Dark Tower #1) – revised and expanded ed.
By Stephen King; Read by George Guidall
Publisher: Penguin Audio, now available on Audible
Publication Date: 6 October 2003
7 hours, 24 minutes [UNABRIDGED]

Themes: / fantasy / parallel worlds /

Publisher summary:

Eerie, dreamlike, set in a world that is weirdly related to our own, The Gunslinger introduces Roland Deschain of Gilead, of In-World that was, as he pursues his enigmatic antagonist to the mountains that separate the desert from the Western Sea in the first volume of The Dark Tower series. Roland, the last gunslinger, is a solitary figure, perhaps accursed, who with a strange single-mindedness traverses an exhausted, almost timeless landscape of good and evil. The people he encounters are left behind, or worse, left dead. At a way station, however, he meets Jake, a boy from a particular time (1977) and a particular place (New York City), and soon the two are joined, khef, ka, and ka-tet. The mountains lie before them. So does the man in black and, somewhere far beyond…the Dark Tower.

The start of an epic journey. Or is it? The start I mean.

“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.”

Why? To what purpose? How long has he been chasing him? Ah my friends, these are but a few of many questions.

The journey is the key, and here we throw our lot in with the Gunslinger as he speeds towards his goal. Will we ever reach it? One must continue the journey with Roland to find out. And so I have. Again.

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve read this book. It’s probably my least favorite in the series, and yet it contains some of my favorite moments.

The glimpses into Roland’s childhood that are a large part of what makes Wizard and Glass one of my absolute favorite books are present in this book with much smaller doses. The story of Roland’s coming of age in particular is one I could listen to again and again (and so I have, say thankee-sai).

Another particular favorite of mine is Tull. It gives us a glimpse, and it just a glimpse of who the Gunslinger really is.  It is here that Mr. King makes a revision in a scene I’m not sure I agree with.  It’s not a “Han Shot First” re-write for me, but one I felt un-necessary that tries to offer some forgiveness for Roland’s actions.

That said. I love this book. The original book is actually a collection of  5 stories that were published in a magazine over the span of about 3 years. Mr. King revised the book in 2003.

For the most part, the revisions help to fill out the story and clear up some continuity issues that Mr. King hadn’t worked out when he first wrote them. You could maybe call it ret-con, but I really consider it more of clarification of detail that was lacking.

I’ve always wondered why so many people don’t like this book. My friend listened to it with his brother. He almost quit the series right there. His brother did. I’ve seen many people recommend skipping this book outright and coming back to it at the end. I suppose that would work, but the need for it is beyond my comprehension.

I thought maybe this re-read many years since my last around the time of the final 3 books release in the mid 2000s would shed some light on it. It did not.

Maybe it’s a sense of nostalgia. Maybe because I first read this book before many of the long sprawling epics I’ve tackled since. But their are certainly other books I enjoyed as a younger man that I no longer enjoy as an adult.

This book isn’t one of those. To me it offers you a glimpse and a promise of all that is to come. For that I must again say Thankee-sai to Mr. King.

I listened to the audible version of the revised edition of this book. The reader is George Guidall.

He was enjoyable enough, and his voice seems suited to the tale. I opted to do an audio-book re-‘read’ of the series as my friend has been experiencing it for the first time and I find my memory of it lacking.

One of the things lost by doing the audio however is the artwork. I have 1-4 in trade paperback by Plume (with both the original text and updated version that this audiobook contains) and the original hard cover releases of 5-7. The Plume editions contain some, but not all of the artwork contained in the original hard cover releases.

Some may not welcome the art, as they prefer to let their own imaginations paint the pictures, but I’ve always been lacking in visual imagination so I welcome the inspiration to help my brain fill in the rest. I plan to make it a point to re-visit the art at some point as my re-read continues.

Review by Rob Zak.

New Releases: Six NEW Philip K. Dick Audiobooks

October 20, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: New Releases 

New Releases

Brilliance Audio has released five new Philip K. Dick audiobooks, none ever audiobooked before, all novels, all available now!

BRILLIANCE AUDIO - The Divine Invasion by Philip K. DickThe Divine Invasion
By Philip K. Dick; Read by Dick Hill
8 CDs – Approx. 9 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: October 18, 2011
ISBN: 9781455814497
God is not dead: he has merely been exiled to an extraterrestrial planet. And it is on this planet that God meets Herb Asher and persuades him to help retake Earth from the demonic Belial. Featuring virtual reality, parallel worlds, and interstellar travel, The Divine Invasion blends philosophy and adventure in a way few authors can achieve. As the middle novel of Dick’s VALIS trilogy, The Divine Invasion plays a pivotal role in answering the questions raised by the first novel, expanding that world while exploring just how much anyone can really know — even God himself.

BRILLIANCE AUDIO - Lies, Inc. by Philip K. DickLies, Inc.
By Philip K. Dick; Read by Luke Daniels
6 CDs – Approx. 7 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: October 18, 2011
ISBN: 9781455814381
When catastrophic overpopulation threatens Earth, one company offers to teleport citizens to Whale’s Mouth, an allegedly pristine new home for happy and industrious émigrés. But there is one problem: the teleportation machine works in only one direction. When Rachmael ben Applebaum discovers that some of the footage of happy settlers may have been faked, he sets out on an eighteen-year journey to see if anyone wants to come back. Lies, Inc. is one of Philip K. Dick’s final novels, which he expanded from his novella The Unteleported Man shortly before his death. In its examination of totalitarianism, reality, and hallucination, it encompasses everything that Dick’s fans love about his oeuvre.

BRILLIANCE AUDIO - Now Wait For Last Year by Philip K. DickNow Wait For Last Year
By Philip K. Dick; Read by Luke Daniels
7 CDs – Approx. 8 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: October 18, 2011
ISBN: 9781455814428
Earth is trapped in the crossfire of an unwinnable war between two alien civilizations. Its leader is perpetually on the verge of death. And on top of that, a new drug has just entered circulation — a drug that haphazardly sends its users traveling through time. In an attempt to escape his doomed marriage, Dr. Eric Sweetscent becomes caught up in all of it. But he has questions: Is Earth on the right side of the war? Is he supposed to heal Earth’s leader or keep him sick? And can he change the harrowing future that the drug has shown him?

BRILLIANCE AUDIO - The Simulacra by Philip K. DickThe Simulacra
By Philip K. Dick; Read by Dick Hill
7 CDs – Approx. 9 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: October 18, 2011
ISBN: 9781455814541
On a ravaged Earth, fate and circumstances bring together a disparate group of characters, including a fascist with dreams of a coup, a composer who plays his instrument with his mind, a First Lady who calls all the shots, and the world’s last practicing therapist. And they all must contend with an underclass that is beginning to ask a few too many questions, aided by a man called Loony Luke and his very persuasive pet alien. In classic Philip K. Dick fashion, The Simulacra combines time travel, psychotherapy, telekinesis, androids, and Neanderthal-like mutants to create a rousing, mind-bending story where there are conspiracies within conspiracies and nothing is ever what it seems.

BRILLIANCE AUDIO - The Transmigration Of Timothy Archer by Philip K. DickThe Transmigration of Timothy Archer
By Philip K. Dick; Read by Joyce Bean
7 CDs – Approx. 9 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: October 18, 2011
ISBN: 9781455814558
The final book in Philip K. Dick’s VALIS trilogy, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer brings the author’s search for the identity and nature of God to a close. The novel follows Bishop Timothy Archer as he travels to Israel, ostensibly to examine ancient scrolls bearing the words of Christ. But more importantly, this leads him to examine the decisions he made during his life and how they may have contributed to the suicides of his mistress and son. This introspective book is one of Dick’s most philosophical and literary, delving into the mysteries of religion and of faith itself. As one of Dick’s final works, it also provides unique insight into the mind of a genius, whose work was still in the process of maturing at the time of his death.

Each of the above is currently available through Audible.com too.They’ve also got Dick’s non-fiction/memoir that’s been called “The Exegesis.” This comes as a kind of a surprise, even though we knew the paperbook was coming, this thing is massive, even edited, and may make for some very strange road trips. Here it is:

BRILLIANCE AUDIO - The Exegesis Of Philip K. Dick edited by Pamela Jackson and Jonathan LethemThe Exegesis Of Philip K. Dick
Edited by Pamela Jackson and Jonathan Lethem; Read by Fred Stella
36 CDs – 44 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: November 7, 2011
ISBN: 9781455814626
Based on thousands of pages of typed and handwritten notes, journal entries, letters, and story sketches, The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick is the magnificent and imaginative final work of an author who dedicated his life to questioning the nature of reality and perception, the malleability of space and time, and the relationship between the human and the divine. Edited and introduced by Pamela Jackson and Jonathan Lethem, this is the definitive presentation of Dick’s brilliant, and epic, work. In the Exegesis, Dick documents his eight-year attempt to fathom what he called “2-3-74,” a postmodern visionary experience of the entire universe “transformed into information.” In entries that sometimes ran to hundreds of pages, in a freewheeling voice that ranges through personal confession, esoteric scholarship, dream accounts, and fictional fugues, Dick tried to write his way into the heart of a cosmic mystery that tested his powers of imagination and invention to the limit. This volume, the culmination of many years of transcription and archival research, has been annotated by the editors and by a unique group of writers and scholars chosen to offer a range of views into one of the most improbable and mind-altering manuscripts ever brought to light.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #097 – READALONG: The Garden Of Forking Paths by Jorge Luis Borges and Fair Game by Philip K. Dick

February 28, 2011 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #097 – Scott and Jesse talk with Luke Burrage about about two short stories: The Garden Of Forking Paths by Jorge Luis Borges |ETEXT| and Fair Game by Philip K. Dick |ETEXT|. The audiobook edition of The Garden Of Forking Paths can be found in the Penguin Audio audiobook Jorge Luis Borges: Collected Fictions.

Talked about on today’s show:
The virtues of short stories, metafiction, Fair Game by Philip K. Dick, If magazine, Anthony Boucher, The Garden Of Forking Paths, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, espionage, fantasy, alternate history, WWI, “start the scene as close to the action as possible”, labyrinth, recursion, the Wikipedia entry on The Garden Of Forking Paths, choose your own adventure, parallel worlds, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, the Necronomicon, H.P. Lovecraft, “The Garden of Forking Paths is an incomplete, but not false, image of the universe as Ts’ui Pên conceived it.”, why doesn’t Luke review short stories on SFBRP?, Eifelheim by Michael Flynn |READ OUR REVIEW|, The Merchant And The Alchemist’s Gate by Ted Chiang, Gene Wolfe, The Book Of The New Sun, Labyrinths: Selected Stories And Other Writings by Jorge Louis Borges, A Solar Labyrinth by Gene Wolfe, “dense as in wonderfully deep”, Penguin Audio, Collected Fictions by Jorge Louis Borges, how are Fair Game and The Garden Of Forking Paths connected?, “how you read a story matters to your understanding of a story”, Professor Anthony Douglas, “An immense eye gazed into the room, studying him.”, The Twilight Zone, “The damn thing was looking at me. It was me it was studying.” Douglas’s voice rose hysterically. “How do you think I feel — scrutinized by an eye as big as a piano! My God, if I weren’t so well integrated, I’d be out of my mind!”, Colorado, “we are the face in the sky staring down at this paper”, physics, the observer effect, the wave function collapses, Schrödinger’s cat,

“What is Doug? About the best nuclear physicist in the world. Working on top-secret projects in nuclear fission. Advanced research. The Government is underwriting everything Bryant College is doing because Douglas is here.”

“So?”

“They want him because of his ability. Because he knows things. Because of their size-relationship to this universe, they can subject our lives to as careful a scrutiny as we maintain in the biology labs of — well, of a culture of Sarcina Pulmonum. But that doesn’t mean they’re culturally advanced over us.”

“Of course!” Pete Berg exclaimed. “They want Doug for his knowledge. They want to pirate him off and make use of his mind for their own cultures.”

“Parasites!” Jean gasped. “They must have always depended on us. Don’t you see? Men in the past who have disappeared, spirited off by these creatures.” She shivered. “They probably regard us as some sort of testing ground, where techniques and knowledge are painfully developed — for their benefit.”

big brother, 1984, “money and sex and food”, To Serve Man by Damon Knight, Fredric Brown, Space by James A. Michener, Apollo 18, payoff first – ironic twist next, Dick vs. Borges, is Dick cynical?, mountains and religion, the atmosphere is an ocean of air around the Earth, “Colorado is the shallows in the Earth.”, what does ample mean?, science fiction, “Ts’ui Pên was a brilliant novelist, but he was also a man of letters who doubtless did not consider himself a mere novelist.”, is Dick taking the piss?, high-minded Science Fiction, what is the significance of the title Fair Game?, this is not a podcast for people aren’t going to read the books, “I think Philip K. Dick bases all of his stories on his own life.”, Upon The Dull Earth by Philip K. Dick, Luke’s novels, is Luke as clever as PKD and Borges?

Dick:

Borges:

Burrage:

Posted by Jesse Willis

BBC Radio 4: Grey Expectations

November 27, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Radio Times: The Afternoon Play: Grey Expectations - review by David CrawfordBBC Radio 4The Radio Times is an invaluable resource for radio drama fans. I truly wish it was available at my local newstand here in Canada. I fuzzily recall something similar back in the 1980s for CBC Radio – but I can’t quite find anything online that matches that memory. Luckily a friend of the site, Roy, has a subscription to the U.K.’s Radio Times and he happily points us to these clippings. So here’s a clipping from next week’s BBC Radio 4 schedule…

BBC Radio 4 - Grey Expectations by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran Afternoon Play: Grey Expectations
By Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran; Performed by a full cast
1 Broadcast – Approx. 45 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 4 / Afternoon Play
Broadcast: Monday 30th November @ 14:15-15:00
Grey Expectations is the third – but not necessarily the last – in a trilogy of stories written by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran.

It follows on from the surreal My Blue Heaven (2006) and My Blue Wedding (2007) which told the story of Graham Slater, a redundant and downtrodden mouse-pusher whose life was transformed when he was offered a job by his childhood friend Laz. However, Laz turned out to be imaginary, blue and furry and lived in a parallel universe.

In this story, Graham learns what happened to all the billions the international bankers lost during the credit crunch – they have turned up in Laz’s blue furry world. Nobody knows what to do with the mountain of waste paper, but can Graham just get rid of it?

Stars:
Stephen Mangan
Rebecca Front
Phyllida Law
Toby Longworth

[Thanks Roy]

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Cat Who Walks Through Walls by Robert A. Heinlein

January 23, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction audiobook - The Cat Who Walks Through Walls by Robert A. HeinleinThe Cat Who Walks Through Walls
By Robert A. Heinlein; Read by Tom Weiner
11 CDs – 13.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
Published: December 2007
ISBN: 1433212918
Themes: / Science Fiction / Marriage / Time Travel / Parallel Worlds / The Moon / Space Station /

When a stranger attempting to deliver a cryptic message is shot dead at his dinner table, Ames is thrown headfirst into danger, intrigue, and other dimensions where Lazarus Long still thrives, where Jubal Harshaw lives surrounded by beautiful women, and where a daring plot to rescue the sentient computer called Mike can change the direction of all human history.

There are a lot of things to dislike about The Cat Who Walks Through Walls:

1. Characters: Heinlein’s characters are either ultra-confident know-it-alls or utterly buffoonish straw-men. Heinlein will happily spend a good ten minutes explaining to you the workings of suborbital flight in a vacuum, but won’t explain (and worse yet – will have the other characters agree) to highly improbable societal systems in cast off sentences like – ‘all sexual options are invested in women’ (on the moon). Then he follows it up with jury trials of accused rapists lasting 30 seconds. Personally, I suspect that any system that threw away habeas corpus in favour of whatever one gender said was good – wouldn’t last very long. It’s possible to imagine a society in which women play a dominant role – but I don’t find it plausible to find any society in which one gender can say one word “rape” (true or not) – and have the accused rapist be instantly ripped apart. Heinlein ignores the problems of: No evidence, no witnesses, no trial. It doesn’t fly Mr. Heinlein.

2. Things missing: First, the internet, especially email, everyone is still mailing paper letters from Lagrange space stations to the Moon! Second, DNA testing. Talk of positively identifying someone all runs along the lines of “fingerprints” and “blood types.” Third, GPS. On Heinlein’s moon you can only tell where you are by using inertial trackers or getting a starfix.

3. A glaring omission: There’s one more thing missing, the last half of the book. Seriously, this book is all prologue, with lots of interesting action, but the entire build up is concluded on the last disc.

4. Too much: There are also things this book has too much of. First, all the many male characters are always calling themselves, denying that they are, or accusing each other of being “henpecked.” This, no matter what universe or era they come from! I’ve never heard any of my married friends use that term. Second, no matter which continent, planet or timeline, the many husbands in this novel come from, they all playfully joke about “beating” their wives. I just don’t know what to do with that information. Is this common in your marriage?

Now, having stated off this review with the above it may sound as if I dislike the novel. And that’s not strictly true. I don’t, not really. But, on the other hand, this is the third audiobook release of it and some of the novelty is starting to wear off. The Cat Who Walks Through Walls has a crackerjack opening scene, some amazing hard SF early on, and a goodly amount of redeeming entertainment value. This is a novel for the truly die-hard Heinlein fans. It was written with the intent of rewarding them for their many years of dedicated reading. It does that. It contains dozens and dozens of characters, many of whom are cameoing from previous Heinlein novels. Lazarus Long (Methusela’s Children), and Hazel Stone (The Rolling Stones) both play substantial roles in the novel. Other characters making appearances include Jubal Harshaw (Stranger In A Strange Land) and Manuel Garcia O’Kelly Davis aka Manny (The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress). In fact, as a reward to loyal readers, The Cat Who Walks Through Walls pairs rather nicely with Heinlein’s The Number Of The Beast in that both it and The Cat Who Walks Through Walls are fond examinations of both the Science Fiction/Fantasy genre and Heinlein’s own career. The key that ties both together is Heinlein’s idea of “pantheistic solipsism.” The idea behind which is that many universes exist under an explanation of ‘the world is myth.’ “The World as Myth” means that influential authors, like L. Frank Baum, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Heinlein himself are actually creating real parallel universes simply by writing vividly about them. In other words, the fictional stories we really enjoy, ARE ACTUALLY REAL. It’s a neat idea, but it’s better explored in The Number Of The Beast. The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, other than being a rewarding odyssey for fans, is more about marriage than any particular SF idea. Richard Ames gets married in chapter two, and honeymoons on Luna – all the while being chased by assassins and hounded by officious bureaucrats. And that’s where the schism comes in. Heinlein has a no-nonsense, no compromises attitude towards bureaucracy, every situation is black or white. And that holds true for marriage too. Except when it doesn’t. Robert Heinlein Richard Ames will put his foot down, draw a line in the sand, and say “this far no farther”. He’ll hold fast, when confronted by social or bureaucratic interaction not too his liking. He’ll do the same in marriage… and then redraw the lines of his convictions to preserve the marriage. I find the latter rather realistic, but the former utterly unrealistic.

Narrator Tom Weiner has been given the thankless task of voicing about three dozen characters. Worse, there are few attributions in the text itself. Pages and pages of dialogue go by without any breaks. This being the third audiobook edition of The Cat Who Walks Through Walls I think back to George Wilson’s solid reading for Recorded Books, and Robert Vaughn’s abridged reading for Simon & Schuster. Vaughn’s is still my favourite, despite it being abridged to hell. Vaughn should have become a professional audiobook narrator. Weiner’s version, Blackstone’s release, is a close second.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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