Review of Silence Please by Arthur C. Clarke

March 31, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
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SFFaudio Review

Finis! Happy Birthday to us!

Science Fiction Audiobooks - Earthlight and Other Stories by Arthur C. ClarkeSilence Please
Contained in Earthlight and Other Stories: The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke 1950-1951
By Arthur C. Clarke; Read by Various
Publisher: Phoenix Books
Published: 2010
Themes: / Science Fiction / Pubs / Sound / Opera / Physics /

What is it about a good pub that makes it such a good place to tell a story? Spider Robinson’s Callahan says “Shared pain is lessened; shared joy, increased.” That’s a good enough reason for me. Someone line me up with a pint, and one for my friend Spider. Let’s see who comes along.

“Silence Please” is Arthur C. Clarke’s first White Hart story of the fifteen that were later collected as The Tales of the White Hart. After the unnamed main character tells us of his surroundings (and how difficult this pub called The White Hart is to find), Harry Purvis sidles up to tell the tale of The Felton Silencer, a device that uses noise-canceling technology to deaden sound over a large area. The best use for such an engineering marvel? Revenge, of course!

The physics behind The Felton Silencer are explained fully. Never has an info dump been more entertaining! And the results make me eye those noise-canceling headphones suspiciously. Best use them only for emergencies.

The presentation is superior – Christopher Cazenove gives this one a dramatic read that comes off like a great British comedy.

A long while ago, Fantastic Audio published a series of audiobooks that contained all of the stories in The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke, a huge collection of Clarke’s short fiction that was published (appropriately enough) in 2001. Phoenix Books is now re-issuing these audiobooks on Audible, at excellent prices. The Earthlight and Other Stories (1950-1951) collection is a great one to start with because in addition to this White Hart story, “The Sentinel” (which later inspired 2001: A Space Odyssey), “Time’s Arrow”, and “Earthlight” are there, too.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of FlashForward by Robert J. Sawyer

January 10, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audiobook - Flashforward by Robert J. SawyerFlashForward
By Robert J. Sawyer; Read by Mark Deakins
9 CDs – Approx. 10.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2009
ISBN: 1433252945
Themes: / Science Fiction / Hard SF / Time Travel / Disaster / Physics / Toronto / CERN / Murder / Mystery / Switzerland /
A scientific experiment begins, and as the button is pressed, the unexpected occurs: everyone in the world goes to sleep for a few moments while everyone’s consciousness is catapulted more than twenty years into the future. At the end of those moments, when the world reawakens, all human life is transformed by foreknowledge. Was that shocking revelation a peek at the real, unalterable future, or was it only one of many possible futures? What happens when a man tries to change it, like the doctor who has twenty years to try to prevent his own murder? How will the foreknowledge of a part of “then” affect the experience of the “now”?

This is the sixth Robert J. Sawyer novel that I have enjoyed. But, I didn’t get into it via the usual route. I started watching the TV series without explicitly knowing that it was an audiobook, that it was by Robert J. Sawyer, or that the novel even existed. But after seeing the TV series go into a mid-season hiatus I discovered the novel, and decided this was the perfect chance to read the story upon which it was based. Having seen the first half of the first season, and having read the novel, I recommend that you don’t watch any of the FlashForward TV series until you have read the audiobook. Both are really good and worthy, but different. The TV show is not spoiled by the audiobook, but seeing how it was adapted should add some value. The novel veers towards Hard SF, whilst the TV show is more of a Hollywood drama with SF leanings.

I personally found a couple of blemishes in the novel’s story that may only bother a few others. George Bernard Shaw and I agree that your particular country is not that interesting just because you were born there. I can understand mentioning TRIUMF and the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, they are useful to the plot and interesting. But the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC)? I ride it every day, and I don’t care. This and a few other Canada Canada Canada details are like being beaten with a Canadian hockey stick. Does the truly “True Great North” need to be bragged about? How un-Canadian. Another quibble, for me, was Sawyer use of John A. Wheeler’s Participatory Anthropic Principle, where things exist only when observed by a consciousness. I cannot fathom anybody believing this anthropocentric twaddle, the idea should be banished like the dark matter, astrology, and celestial spheres. Humans are neither that powerful nor that important.

Despite these quibbles FlashForward has an obliging rationalistic science slant. Consistency reigns. If you like to hear scientists with reasonable amounts of emotions talking, this book is for you. The conversations were what I expect from physicists. The visions of the future, caused by the flashforwards of the title, were very down to earth and believable. The audiobook also mixes in a modicum of mystery, via a future “who done it.” I predicted some of the events and was pleasantly surprised by others in this not-too-long a story. The ending, though plausible, did not unfurl as I had expected.

Narrator Mark Deakins gave a realistic delivery. His only error being when he twice mis-pronunced “Dyson” with the accent incorrectly on the last syllable, as in “Die-sown.” FlashForward is definitely worth a listen.

New Releases: Robert E. Howard, Jack McDevitt, Joe Abercrombie, Michael Rubens, Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin

December 30, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
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New Releases

Tantor MediaTantor Media has released about sixty Science Fiction and Fantasy audiobooks in the last six months.

That’s a staggering figure.

When we started SFFaudio, back in 2003, there were fewer than sixty SFF audiobooks released in an entire year from all the audiobook publishers combined!

Here are just a few 2009 and 2010 Tantor titles that are both previously unposted and personally interesting to me…

Tantor Media - Kull: Exile Of Atlantis by Robert E. HowardKull: Exile Of Atlantis
By Robert E. Howard; Read by Todd McLaren
10 CDs – Approx. 12 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Media
Published: December 2009
ISBN: 9781400112272
In a meteoric career that spanned a mere twelve years, Robert E. Howard single-handedly invented the genre that came to be called sword and sorcery. From his fertile imagination sprang some of fiction’s most enduring heroes. Yet while Conan the Cimmerian is indisputably Howard’s greatest creation, it was in his earlier sequence of tales featuring Kull, a fearless warrior with the brooding intellect of a philosopher, that Howard began to develop the distinctive themes and the richly evocative blend of history and mythology that would distinguish his later tales of the Hyborian Age. Much more than simply the prototype for Conan, Kull is a fascinating character in his own right: an exile from fabled Atlantis who wins the crown of Valusia, only to find it as much a burden as a prize. This groundbreaking collection brings together all of Howard’s stories featuring Kull: Exile of Atlantis, The Shadow Kingdom, The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune, The Cat And The Skull, The Screaming Skull Of Silence, The Striking Of The Gong, The Altar and the Scorpion, The Curse of the Golden Skull, By This Axe I Rule!, Swords Of The Purple Kingdom, The King And The Oak, and Kings Of The Night

Tantor Media - The Savage Tales Of Solomon Kane by Robert E. HowardThe Savage Tales Of Solomon Kane
By Robert E. Howard; Read by Paul Boehmer
10 CDs – Approx. 12.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Media
Published: January 2010
ISBN: 9781400112289
With Conan the Cimmerian, Robert E. Howard created more than the greatest action hero of the twentieth century — he also launched a genre that came to be known as sword and sorcery. But Conan was not the first archetypal adventurer to spring from Howard’s fertile imagination. He was…a strange blending of Puritan and Cavalier, with a touch of the ancient philosopher, and more than a touch of the pagan…. A hunger in his soul drove him on and on, an urge to right all wrongs, protect all weaker things…. Wayward and restless as the wind, he was consistent in only one respect—he was true to his ideals of justice and right. Such was Solomon Kane. Collected in this volume are all of the stories that make up the thrilling saga of the dour and deadly Puritan: Skulls In The Stars, The Right Hand Of Doom, Red Shadows, Rattle Of Bones, The Castle Of The Devil, Death’s Black Riders, The Moon Of Skulls, The One Black Stain, The Blue Flame Of Vengeance, The Hills Of The Dead, Hawk Of Basti, The Return Of Sir Richard Grenville, Wings In The Night, The Footfalls Within, The Children Of Asshur, and Solomon Kane’s Homecoming.

Tantor Media - Time Travelers Never Die by Jack McDevittTime Travelers Never Die
By Jack McDevitt; Read by Paul Boehmer
12 CDs – Approx. 14.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
ISBN: 9781400114337
Publisher: Tantor Media
Publsihed: January 2010
When physicist Michael Shelborne mysteriously vanishes, his son Shel discovers that he had constructed a time travel device. Fearing his father may be stranded in time—or worse—Shel enlists Dave Dryden, a linguist, to accompany him on the rescue mission. Their journey through history takes them from the Enlightenment of Renaissance Italy through the American Wild West to the civil rights upheavals of the twentieth century. Along the way, they encounter a diverse cast of historical greats, sometimes in unexpected situations. Yet the elder Shelborne remains elusive. And then Shel violates his agreement with Dave not to visit the future. There he makes a devastating discovery that sends him fleeing back through the ages and changes his life forever.

Tantor Media - Best Served Cold by Joe AbercrombieBest Served Cold
By Joe Abercrombie; Read by Michael Page
22 CDs – 27.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Media
Published: December 2009
ISBN: 9781400113279
Springtime in Styria. And that means war. There have been nineteen years of blood. The ruthless Grand Duke Orso is locked in a vicious struggle with the squabbling League of Eight, and between them they have bled the land white. While armies march, heads roll, and cities burn, behind the scenes bankers, priests, and older, darker powers play a deadly game to choose who will be king. War may be hell, but for Monza Murcatto, the Snake of Talins, the most feared and famous mercenary in Duke Orso’s employ, it’s a damn good way of making money too. Her victories have made her popular—a shade too popular for her employer’s taste. Betrayed, thrown down a mountain, and left for dead, Murcatto’s reward is a broken body and a burning hunger for vengeance. Whatever the cost, seven men must die. Her allies include Styria’s least reliable drunkard, Styria’s most treacherous poisoner, a mass murderer obsessed with numbers, and a barbarian who just wants to do the right thing. Her enemies number the better half of the nation. And that’s all before the most dangerous man in the world is dispatched to hunt her down and finish the job Duke Orso started. Springtime in Styria. And that means revenge.

Tantor Media - The Sheriff Of Yrnameer by Michael RubensThe Sheriff of Yrnameer
By Michael Rubens; Read by William Dufris
8 CDs – Approx. 9.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Media
Published: August 2009
ISBN: 9781400113255
Meet Cole: hapless space rogue, part-time smuggler, on a path to being full-time dead. His sidekick just stole his girlfriend. The galaxy’s most hideous and feared bounty hunter wants to lay eggs in his brain. And the luxury space yacht Cole just hijacked turns out of be filled with interstellar do-gooders, one especially loathsome stowaway, and a cargo of freeze-dried orphans. Reluctantly compelled to deliver these defenseless, fluidless children to safety, Cole gathers a misfit crew for a desperate journey to the far reaches of the galaxy. Their destination: the mysterious world of Yrnameer, the very last of the your-name-heres—planets without corporate sponsors. But little does Cole know that this legendary utopia is home to a murderous band of outlaws bent on destroying the planet’s tiny, peaceful community. Follow Cole’s adventures through a delightfully absurd science-fiction universe, where the artificial intelligence is stupid, dust motes carry branding messages, and middle-management zombies have overrun a corporate training satellite. In the spirit of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett, The Sheriff of Yrnameer is sci-fi comedy at its best—mordant, raucously funny, and a thrilling must-listen.

TANTOR MEDIA - The Unincorporated Man by Dani Kollin and Eytan KollinThe Unincorporated Man
By Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin; Read by Todd McLaren
19 CDs – Approx. 24.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Media
Published: May 2009
ISBN: 9781400111725
The Unincorporated Man is a provocative social/political/economic novel that takes place in the future, after civilization has fallen into complete economic collapse. This reborn civilization is one in which every individual is incorporated at birth and spends many years trying to attain control over his or her own life by getting a majority of his or her own shares. Life extension has made life very long indeed. Now the incredible has happened: a billionaire businessman from our time, frozen in secret in the early twenty-first century, is discovered and resurrected, given health and a vigorous younger body. Justin Cord is the only unincorporated man in the world, a true stranger in this strange land. Justin survived because he is tough and smart. He cannot accept only part ownership of himself, even if that places him in conflict with a civilization that extends outside the solar system to the Oort Cloud. People will be arguing about this novel and this world for decades.

Which of the other SFF titles from 2009 (and forthcoming in 2010) from Tantor are of interest to you folks? Click HERE to check out the list. Then post your list below.

Posted by Jesse Willis

LibriVox: Security by Poul Anderson

December 9, 2009 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

LibriVoxNew from LibriVox.org, and featuring the voice talent of Gregg Margarite is:

Security by Poul Anderson

This isn’t the first recording of this 1953 Science Fiction novelette. Maureeen O’Brien (of the Maria Lectrix podcast) recorded a version previously. It, along with a whole bunch more Poul Anderson audio, can be found on our POUL ANDERSON page!

LibriVox - Security by Poul AndersonSecurity
By Poul Anderson; Read by Gregg Margarite
2 MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 1 Hour 19 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Puiblished: December 4, 2009
Security, tells the story of a compartmentalized government physicist ordered by secret police to complete experiments aimed at developing a new weapon. He is brought to a hidden space station and put in charge of the project but there are many questions. In a world of spies watching spies it’s sometimes hard to know what’s patriotic. First published in Space Science Fiction February 1953.

Part 1 |MP3| Part 2 |MP3|

Podcast feed: http://librivox.org/rss/3798

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

[Special thanks also to Betty M. and James Christopher @ LibriVox]

Posted by Jesse Willis

Science Fiction and Politics University Course (has new lectures)

September 6, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Science Fiction and PoliticsCourtney Brown has added some new classes to his Science Fiction and Politics podcast. Brown is a professor of Political Science at Emory University who posts many of his lectures to his website (he’s actually been podcasting since 2006).

For the first two lectures of the Spring 2009 semester Brown, and class, are talking about Lee Smolin’s The Trouble with Physics. That’s a non-fiction book that bashes the various untestable string theories that physicists have been spinning over the last couple of decades. The second set of two lectures is about a 1991 “feminist science fiction/cyberpunk novel” called He, She And It by Marge Piercy. Next is just one MP3 discussing Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age. And the final two have Courtney and class talking about Philip K. Dick’s Ubik. These are the first new lectures from Courtney Brown talking Science Fiction since 2007.

Here are the new lectures that have been added to course’s podcast:

Lee Smolin’s The Trouble with Physics – Part 1 |MP3|
Lee Smolin’s The Trouble with Physics – Part 2 |MP3|
Marge Piercy’s He, She And It – Part 1|MP3|
Marge Piercy’s He, She And It – Part 2 |MP3|
Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age |MP3|
Philip K. Dick’s Ubik – Part 1 |MP3|
Philip K. Dick’s Ubik – Part 2 |MP3|
Podcast feed:

http://www.courtneybrown.com/classes/scifi/mp3/cb_SciFiPoliticsClass1.xml

For previous lectures either check out one of our older posts about Brown and his classes, |HERE|, |HERE| and |HERE|, or visit Professor Brown’s website directly |HERE|.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Simon Bloom, the Gravity Keeper by Michael Reisman

December 9, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Fantasy Audiobook - Simon Bloom, the Gravity Keeper by Michael ReismanSimon Bloom, the Gravity Keeper
By Michael Reisman; Read by Nicholas Hormann
6 CDs – 7 hours, 22 minutes – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Listening Library
Published: 2008
ISBN: 9780739363539
Themes: / Science Fiction / YA / Physics / School /

Ordinary sixth-grader Simon Bloom has just made the biggest discovery since gravity–and it literally fell into his lap.

This is just an ordinary universe with one little twist. There is something called the Council of Knowledge that controls everything in the universe — how it runs, events that happen, and things like this. One part of this group is the Council of Sciences, and part of that is the Order of Physics. A man named Ralphagon Wintrofly (or Ralph Winters, as other people call him) is the keeper of this group and very special book called the Teachers Edition of Physics. The group meets every week in a forest near Simon Bloom’s hometown, but this forest is hidden from people who aren’t in the Council of Knowledge.

Simon Bloom was never special in any way, just an ordinary kid at school who had average grades and no friends. He spent his time daydreaming, and hoping that something would happen to his life. He got his wish. He met another sixth-grader at his school (Owen) and they find themselves in a patch of woods on the way home from school one day. Simon accidentally calls the Teachers Edition of Physics to him, and now it calls him “Keeper”.

The book contains formulas for controlling the field of physics. Certain people want this book and it isn’t safe for long. Simon has to face the horrific Seerbetta who has formulas of her own. Simon and his friends must find a way to defeat her and figure out what the Teachers Edition of Physics is for.

Nicholas Hormann is the narrator of this story. He has a great talent for creating voices. The characters voices that he provided this story put an emphasis on their specific character. The females in this story sound a bit more male than female but it did not make it so I couldn’t understand who the character was.

I recommend this book to kids 11+. This is a great book to listen to for its mild intensity and its surprising scenes. I was surprised at what happened next and was always ready for more.

Posted by DanielsonKid, Age 14

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