Recent Arrivals: Welcome To Bordertown edited by Holly Black and Ellen Kushner

May 30, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Recent Arrivals 

SFFaudio Recent Arrivals

Just crossed the border, literally (it came in the back of a Subaru), here’s a Brilliance Audio audiobook collection that does almost everything right! First, check out the awesome cover art for Welcome To Bordertown:


BRILLIANCE AUDIO - Welcome To Bordertown edited by Holly Black and Ellen Kushner

Next, note the detailed track listings on the back:

BRILLIANCE AUDIO - Welcome To Bordertown edited by Holly Black and Ellen Kushner

So that’s a look at the outside, inside the discs themselves don’t detail their contents, which is bad, but not fatal (considering you’ve got the back of the audiobook to go by). As to the audio content itself, well I’m looking forward to picking up stories here and there as I research the authors more – that’s usually how I listen to collections these days.

This is the official description:

Bordertown: a city on the Border between the human world and the elfin realm. A place where neither magic nor technology can be counted on, where elf and human kids run away to find themselves. The Way from our world to the Border has been blocked for thirteen long years. . . . Now the Way is open once again — and Bordertown welcomes a new set of seekers and dreamers, misfits and makers, to taste life on the Border.

Here are thirteen interconnected stories, one graphic story, and eight poems — all new work by some of today’s best urban fantasy, fantasy, and slipstream writers

Now I’ve already checked out Neil Gaiman’s entry, which is a poem entitled The Song Of The Song. And I listened to Holly Black reading her own introductory essay. In it she credits the original Bordertown books as ‘creating the urban fantasy subgenre’. Ellen Kushner, Black’s co-editor, reads Terri Windling’s introductory essay, which details the background for the Bordertown series itself. It’s is described as a “Thieves’ World for teens.” Windling also talks about the phenomenon of shared worlds. Also, and this is pretty cool, there’s an additional editorial introduction written, and read, by Ellen Kushner (one that’s not found in the paperbook edition at all).

The only thing missing from this great audiobook edition is the story named Fair Trade by Sara Ryan and Dylan Meconis. But that’s probably because it’s actually a comic and so it would have been very hard to translate into audio (there are two panels of it HERE). And finally, here’s a promo video for the book:

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Od Magic by Patricia A. McKillip

April 16, 2009 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Od Magic by Patricia A. McKillipOd Magic
By Patricia A. McKillip; Read by  Gabrielle de Cuir
Audible Download – 11 hours 33 minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2009
Themes: / fantasy / wizard school / monarchy / herbalism

I know you can’t judge a book by its cover, but Od Magic is one of those books I was immediately drawn to solely based on its whimsical cover art of bright pastels and its equally playful blurb.

Brenden Vetch has a gift. With an innate sense he cannot explain to himself or describe to others, he is able to connect to the agricultural world, nurturing gardens to flourish and instinctively knowing the healing properties each plant and herb has to offer. But Brenden’s gift isolates him from people and from becoming part of a community – until the day he receives a personal invitation from the Wizard Od. She needs a gardener for her school in the great city of Kelior, where every potential wizard must be trained to serve the Kingdom of Numis. For decades the rulers of Numis have controlled the school, believing they can contain the power within it, and have punished any wizard who dares defy the law. But unknown to the reigning monarchy is the power possessed by the school’s new gardener, a power that even Brenden isn’t fully aware of, and which is the true reason Od recruited him.

Od Magic shines brightest when it delivers on the promises of that introduction. Unfortunately, it’s also bogged down by lukewarm political intrigue and half-baked supporting characters.

Brenden Vetch has learned much from his plants. He’s even found a cure for the plague that swept through his village. Unfortunately, his discovery came too late to save his parents from the epidemic, and he has lived a lonely life in his childhood home with their ghosts ever since, refusing to leave even when his brother departs to seek brighter fortune elsewhere. Only when the giantess wizard Od invites him to tend the magical plants of her school in the royal city of Kelior does he pull up roots. Brenden’s story is emotionally potent, but sadly McKillip fails to capitalize on the possibilities for character development which it presents. Vetch’s grieving process is barely mentioned, and he develops very few meaningful relationships in Od’s school.

The cover summary is misleading in that it suggests that Brenden serves as the focal point of the novel. While he is indeed a pivotal character, the book’s focus widens to introduce other magical inhabitants of the city of Kelior. Contrary to the rigid belief of King Galen, Od’s school does not hold a monopoly on magic in the kingdom of Numis. Travelers from neighboring kingdoms, from commoners to nobles, have brought their own strains of magic into the land. Much of Od Magic deals with the resistence on the part of the king and on the part of Od’s school towards embracing these diverse magical traditions. In this sense, McKillip’s work provides an interesting anthropological examination of the exchange of cultural ideas, patriotism, and xenophobia.

Though part of Od Magic is set in a wizard school, the novel should not be seen as a Harry Potter or A Wizard of Earthsea imitator. The students remain at the periphery of the tale. There’s only one teaching scene reminiscent of the “student wizard” genre. In fact, only one, a brilliantly talented boy named Elver, appears regularly, and he’s an atypical sampling of the student body.

The novel’s stand-out performances are both suggested by its title. The giantess Od appears infrequently, as she takes a hands-off approach to running her school, preferring instead to roam the world offering aid to wounded beasts. Her enigmatic appearance and demeanor–she’s depicted with birds nesting in her hair and animals burrowing into her clothing–and her lyrical, poetic mode of speech elevate the few scenes in which she appears into high art. The magic itself as it manifests in the novel is similarly strange and delightful. Though characters allude to the dark potential of magical power, the magic in the book is playful, whimsical, and, yes, odd. In this sense, Od Magic presents a nice respite from the dark, gritty, and violent magic that populates many postmodern fantasy novels.

Gabrielle de Cuir’s narration of Od Magic captures the playful essence of the novel’s best passages. Her performance of Od’s dialogue chimes in the ears like a tinkling stream, and she carries the emotions and idiosyncracies of the other female characters comfortably as well. A male narrator might have better embodied the persona of Brenden Vetch, but since the magical gardener appears all too seldomly in the novel this is not a serious shortcoming.

As I said, the inviting cover image and tantalizing publisher’s summary really made me want to like Od Magic. I certainly enjoyed elements of it very much, enough to make me want to seek out some of Patricia A. McKillip’s other works. Overall, though, the novel’s lack of focus and cohesion leads me to endorse it only half-heartedly.

Posted by Seth Wilson

The SFFaudio Podcast #025

February 16, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #025 – Jesse and Scott are joined by Brian Murphy of The Silver Key and The Cimmerian blogs. We mostly talk about Fantasy, with a little war talk to make things manlier.

Talked about on today’s show:
Recent Arrivals, Penguin Audio, re-release of Stephen King audiobooks, Desperation, The Regulators, Thinner, Rose Madder, Joe Mantegna, Blair Brown, Kathy Bates, Kate Nelligan, the origins of the “Richard Bachman” pseudonym, Donald E. Westlake, Chapterhouse Dune, Frank Herbert, full cast narration, Macmillan Audio, Starship series, Mike Resnick, Jonathan Davis, Book Of The Road, dual narration, Elric Of Melbinone, Michael Moorcock, Audio Realms, The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman, the Canadian publishing industry, Raincoast Books, Od Magic, Patricia A. McKillip, Dreams Underfoot, Charles de Lint, cover art matters, Black Gate blog, Confessions Of A Speed Reading Instructor, “how long is a book ?”, Top 10 Fantasy Battles Of All Time, The Iliad, Homer, Recorded Books, George Guidall, the Robert Fitzgerald translation, reciting Homeric length epics (the documentary In Search Of The Trojan War), Bernard Cornwell, The Winter King, King Arthur (2004), Clive Owen, Excalibur (1981), Audio Renaissance (Macmillan Audio), Chivers Audio (BBC Audiobooks America), ISIS Audio, the Sharpe television series, George R.R. Martin, A Song Of Ice And Fire series.

King Arthur,

Posted by Jesse Willis

Recent Arrivals from Blackstone Audio

February 13, 2009 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Recent Arrivals 

SFFaudio Recent Arrivals

Dreams Underfoot by Charles de LintDreams Underfoot
By Charles de Lint; Read by Kate Reading
11 CDs – 13 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2009
ISBN: 9781433260100

Welcome to Newford: to the music clubs, the waterfront, and the alleyways where ancient myths and magic spill into the modern world. Gemmins live in abandoned cars and skells traverse the tunnels below, while mermaids swim in the grey harbor waters and fill the cold night with their song. Come meet Jilly, painting wonders in the rough city streets; and Geordie, playing fiddle while he dreams of a ghost; and the Angel of Grasso Street gathering the fey and the wild and the poor and the lost. Dreams Underfoot is a must-read book not only for fans of urban fantasy but for all who seek magic in everyday life.
 
 
Od Magic by Patricia McKillipOd Magic
By Patricia A. McKillip; Read by Gabrielle de Cuir
10 CDs – 11.7 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2009
ISBN: 9781433223983

Brenden Vetch has a gift. With an innate sense he cannot explain to himself or describe to others, he is able to connect to the agricultural world, nurturing gardens to flourish and instinctively knowing the healing properties each plant and herb has to offer. But Brenden’s gift isolates him from his community, until the day he receives a personal invitation from the wizard Od. She needs a gardener for her school in the great city of Kelior, where every potential wizard must be trained to serve the Kingdom of Numis.

For decades, the rulers of Numis have controlled the school, believing they can contain the power within it. They punish any wizard who dares defy the law. But unknown to the reigning monarchy is the power possessed by the school’s new gardener, a power even Brenden isn’t fully aware of and which is the true reason why Od recruited him.
 
Posted by Scott D. Danielson

The SFFaudio Podcast #024

February 9, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #024 – Jesse and Scott discuss hardware (which is the best iPod), comics (graphic novels to some), movies (bad and worse) and even a few audiobooks (not so bad at all).

Talked about on today’s show:
Recent arrivals, Od Magic by Patricia A. McKillip, Blackstone Audio, Dreams Underfoot by Charles de Lint, urban fantasy, Pebble In The Sky by Isaac Asimov, BBC Audiobooks America, Gentleman Of The Road by Michael Chabon, In The Electric Mist With The Confederate Dead by James Lee Burke, New Orleans, why there’s no such thing as a “noir” series, Montana, film: Taken, ViolentWorldOfParker.com, Duplicate Effort by Kristine Katherine Rusch, the Moon, Audible.com’s Short Story sale, Coming Attraction by Fritz Leiber, LibriVox + SFFaudio = Instant iTunes Audiobooks, “Here Comes The eBook Revolution” by Mike Elgan, the e-ing of magazines, review of The Book Of Lies by Brad Meltzer, Phantoms by Dean Koontz, revisionism – what authors shouldn’t go back and revise (or update) their published novels, evidence: Star Wars, Star Trek: Amok Time, Escape Pod returns! with a new Ken Scholes short story, Lamentation by Ken Scholes, Springtime for Hitler (and Germany), iPhone’s drawback (battery life), iPod Nano vs. iPod Classic vs. iPod Touch, The Cutie by Donald E. Westlake comes to audiobook on March 1st 2009, Decoder Ring Theatre, Gregg Taylor’s Black Jack Justice is now a webcomic!, Sandman: Brief Lives by Neil Gaiman, Gaiman on CBC,

Posted by Jesse Willis

SFFaudio salutes this year’s World Fantasy Award W…

November 5, 2003 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

SFFaudio News

SFFAudio salutes this year’s World Fantasy Award Winners. Congratulations!

Life Achievement

Lloyd Alexander

Donald M. Grant

Novel

The Facts of Life by Graham Joyce

Ombria in Shadow by Patricia A. McKillip

Novella

“The Library” by Zoran Zivkovic

Short Story

“Creation” by Jeffrey Ford (F&SF 5/02)

Anthology

The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest, Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling, Editors

Leviathan 3, Jeff VanderMeer & Forrest Aguirre, Editors

Collection

The Fantasy Writer’s Assistant and Other Stories by Jeffrey Ford

Artist

Tom Kidd

Special Award: Professional

Gordon Van Gelder for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction

The World Fantasy Awards were presented Sunday afternoon, November 2, at the conclusion of the World Fantasy Convention at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill. They are given each year.

On audio, Jeffrey Ford’s “Creation” can be found in The Best of Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine 2002 which can be found over on Audible.com.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson