Review of The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

February 25, 2010 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Fantasy Audiobook - The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon SandersonThe Gathering Storm – Book Twelve of The Wheel of Time
By Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
Read by Kate Reading and Michael Kramer
26 CDs – 34.5 Hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Published: 2009
ISBN: 9781593977672
Themes: / Fantasy / Epic fantasy / Good and Evil / Power / Politics / Religion / Magic /

The Gathering Storm is the first of the final trilogy of The Wheel of Time series. It was a long time coming, and I am pleased to report that Brandon Sanderson did an outstanding job. I actually spent part of my listening time looking for stylistic differences from the other books, but hats off to Sanderson for pulling this off. He nailed the tone of the other books, and tells a good story.

There are so many characters in these books, with different styles of speaking, that Michael Kramer and Kate Reading would be forgiven for inconsistencies in their narration, as they’ve done all 11 volumes that come before this one. That’s over 230 hours of audio! But they were right on, too. Their professional, enjoyable narration gave the book an additional source of continuity. These two are the voices of the Wheel of Time series.

So much has happened in this series that to say much about the plot here will spoil previous volumes. It should suffice for me to say that I enjoyed this book enough that I’ve started the series over from the beginning, in anticipation of the upcoming pair of concluding novels.

Posted by Tricia

Review of Eye For Eye by Orson Scott Card

April 20, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Audiobook Review

Science Fiction Audiobook - Eye For Eye by Orson Scott CardEye For Eye
By Orson Scott Card; Read by Stefan Rudnicki with Margy Stein
3 CDs – 147 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: ReQuest Audiobooks
Published: 2005
ISBN: 1933299517
Themes: / Science Fiction / Society / Morality / Youth / Power /

“If you’re a half way decent person you don’t go looking to kill people. Even if you can do it without touching them. Even if you can do it as nobody even guesses they were murdered you still got to try not to do it.”

Mick Winger is only seventeen – and already he’s killed over a dozen people. Not on purpose of course; he never meant to hurt anyone. But when Mick gets angry, people die, even the people he loves the most. Set in the contemporary world, Mick is a godfearing young man with a mysterious power – the ability to kill people just by getting mad at them. He doesn’t want to kill people, but sometimes he gets mad and then they die of hideous cancerous tumors – sometimes fast, sometimes slow – depending on how mad he gets. The phenomena is explained by some “bio electrical field” handwaving on Card’s part but that isn’t the heart of the story. Mick’s been an orphan since the day he was born – even as a baby his uncontrollable power killed his caregivers. When he grew old enough to realize the danger he posed to others, he left the orphanage to get a job doing manual labour for a decent father figure. One day Mick finds himself unconciously withdrawing his meager savings and travelling to his birthplace – like a salmon going to spawn – but on the way he meets an older woman who knows his terrible secret. She tells him he doesn’t have to go and tries to persuade him to come with her instead. But Mick has other plans. He’ll go work for the CIA, make some good of his ability to kill. Of course Mick has forgotten even he has to sleep sometime…

I plain loved this book. Not only is the story told crisply and cleanly, but it also gets one doing some deep thinking. Mick’s gift/curse is almost the perfect allegory for gun control. Not even the most rabid NRA members would suggest it’s a good idea to give pistols to toddlers, and that’s basically Mick’s situation. He’s been given a weapon that is so a part of him that he can no more stop it than he can stop breathing. His emotions are tied into a hair trigger of killing. Pity even the most loved friend who is standing near when his emotions run hot. Orson Scott Card has tied this all in with what looks like a cross between an Old Testament inbreeding program and a fundamentalist militia.

This whole situation reminded me of a phrase Robert A. Heinlein once coined: “An armed society is a polite society.”* This concept has been much trumpted by the firearms lobby and Eye For Eye shows just what it would mean if it were practiced. If everyone was like Mick Winger, a community of the armed would also be a community of fear, where even constructive criticism is to be avoided at all costs lest someone take offense. Love thy neighbor doesn’t extend very well when thy neighbor demands the freedom to own nuclear weapons.

In this age of seemingly endless series, thousand page fantasy epics, and general fiction sprawl, it is wonderfully refreshing to listen to a short novel or novella. Request Audiobooks, a brand new player in the audiobook market, has dipped into Science Fiction and Fantasy’s glorious past for some wonderous tales that don’t require a forklift to enjoy. Eye For Eye was first published in Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, Mar 1987 issue, and in 1988 it won the Hugo Award for best novella. Then in November 1990 it was paired as half of the Tor Double Novel #27 with another novella by Lloyd Biggle Jr. (The Tor Doubles are for my money the very best modern treeware series published). For more than ten years this terrific tale sat out of print. Then ReQuest Audiobooks stepped up. And boy did they ever! ReQuest presents the novella in all its glory, and then some. They tapped master narrator Stefan Rudnicki to read it. Rudnicki who’s sonorant basso has performed more Orson Scott Card audiobooks than any other voice on Earth is perfect for the job. Then, they went to Orson Scott Card himself and had him write an original afterword just for the audiobook. To finish it all off, they commisioned some truly eye-catching art. This is my very favorite kind of audiobook. A short novel with an intriguing premise, bristling with driven characters, read by a talented narrator, and sporting a bonus feature. With a USA price point of just $14.95 for three CDs this is like a slice of audio heaven.

*-The quotation comes from the novel Beyond This Horizon by Robert A. Heinlein

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Dune: An Interview with Frank Herbert and David Lynch

November 1, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

Dune: An Interview with Frank Herbert and David LynchDune: An Interview with Frank Herbert and David Lynch
1 Cassette – Approx. 1 Hour [INTERVIEW]
Publisher: Waldentapes
Published: 1983
ISBN: 0681308958
Themes: / Interview / Science Fiction / Moviemaking / Politics / Messiah / Power structures /

After reviewing Recorded Books unabridged Dune by Frank Herbert, Jesse suggested that I listen to this cassette which contains 2 interviews. One with Frank Herbert and David Lynch, the director of the first Dune movie, and an interview with Frank Herbert alone.

The interview with Lynch and Herbert shows how pleased Herbert was with Lynch’s film. The interview was recorded before the film’s release, and Lynch expressed nervousness while Herbert expressed satisfaction, along with some discussion of the difference between film and print, and the process of getting one to the other.

To me, the interview with Herbert alone (the bulk of the cassette) was the most interesting. Of Dune he said that what he wanted was “something that showed the impact of a messiah on history as the creator of a power structure.” His theory was that a messiah creates a power structure that attracts corruptible people, no matter how well-meaning the messiah might be. This led into a discussion of how a messiah is accepted by a culture in the first place, then into the nature of the power structure a messiah leaves behind, and into how this applies to contemporary power structures in government.

Another tidbit I picked up that I didn’t know is that Herbert considered Dune, Dune, Messiah, and Children of Dune one book, with Dune, Messiah being the pivotal book. I have not read past the first novel, so now I’ve got a couple more books on my TBR pile.

The entire program was interesting enough to listen to twice. If you are a fan of Dune, find yourself a copy of this! I think you’ll enjoy it.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson