[audio drama] Review of In the Embers

June 16, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama 

SFFaudio Review

Audio Drama - In the EmbersIn the Embers
A Great Northern Audio Theatre Production
Written, Directed, and Produced by Brian Price and Jerry Stearns
[AUDIO DRAMA] – 1 Hour, 19 Minutes
Published: 2015
Themes: / Audio Drama / time / archaeology / jazz / quantum physics /

A song, a pressed flower, and the sound of two girl’s voices recovered from a burned wooden beam by using a laser to read its charred surface like the grooves of an old 78rpm record. These are the clues that archaeologist, Digger Morgan, discovers while working on a routine Maryland plantation dig. Who were the girls? When was the fire? The answers all lead to 1920s jazz pioneer, Kit Jeffers, whose voice mysteriously appears on Digger’s computer, and whose existence remains haunted by a singular tragic event.

The first sounds offered by this wonderful work of audio drama are the broken haunting voices of two people trying to escape a barn fire. I can hear them as I type this. The voices were impressed on charred barn beams until archaeologist Digger Morgan discovered a way to read them with a laser. Hearing those voices was a powerful moment for me, a moment in which I not only felt the emotion of two people trapped in a fire, but also in which I considered the possibility of strong emotion leaving an imprint on our surroundings.

“In the Embers” doesn’t shy away from considering the implications either. In fact, this fine work of science fiction goes even further. How large an imprint could one leave? And could emotion somehow be transmitted through time? What would be the effect?

The story is excellent, the music is excellent, the audio quality is excellent, and so are the actors. Robin Miles as Kit Jeffers was particularly outstanding. From the riveting opening to the emotional closing scene, this is a drama that goes in the permanent collection. I’ll be listening to this again, no question.

“In the Embers” premiered at last weekend’s HEAR Now Festival in Kansas City, and will be broadcast on Sound Affects over two weeks – June 21 and 28.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

The SFFaudio Podcast #041

November 9, 2009 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #041 – Jesse and Scott are joined by SF author Robert J. Sawyer to talk about his audiobooks, writing Science Fiction novels, and the TV show based on his novel FlashForward.

Talked about on today’s show:
FlashForward (the TV series), FlashForward by Robert J. Sawyer, Blackstone Audio, David S. Goyer, Marc Guggenheim, Jessika Borsiczky, Brannon Braga, Lost, Battlestar Galactica, does the TV show of FlashForward have a plan?, idea based SF, time travel, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells |READ OUR REVIEW|, differences between the television show and the novel versions of FlashForward, WWW: Wake by Robert J. Sawyer |READ OUR REVIEW|, Inconstant Moon by Larry Niven, philosophy in Science Fiction, Calculating God by Robert J. Sawyer |READ OUR REVIEW|, Jonathan Davis, Audible Frontiers, atheism and religion in SF, scientific institutions in Science Fiction, The Royal Ontario Museum, CERN, The Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, science, Robin Cook, Michael Crichton, Launchpad Astronomy Workshop, Edward M. Lerner, Joe Haldeman, science literacy amongst Science Fiction authors, Karl Schroeder, Charles Stross, post-singularity SF, Clarke’s Third Law, NASA Ames Research Center, TRIUMF, Human Genome Project, Neanderthal Genome Project, military SF, S.M. Stirling, Harry Turtledove, alternate history, consciousness, aliens, spaceship, time travel, the WWW trilogy, Audible.com, Starplex by Robert J. Sawyer, Star Trek, alien aliens, Larry Niven, Niven’s aliens, Golden Fleece by Robert J. Sawyer, how did fantasy and Science Fiction get lumped together? Donald A. Wollheim, dinosaurs, artificial intelligence, genetics, time travel, the Internet, quantum physics, CBC Radio’s version of Rollback, Alessandro Juliani.

Jessika Borsiczky on adapting the novel of FlashForward to television:

Trailer for Sawyer’s WWW trilogy:

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Singularity by Bill DeSmedt

November 19, 2006 by · 11 Comments
Filed under: Reviews, SFFaudio essential 

Podibook Review

Podcast - The SingularitySingularity
By Bill DeSmedt; Read by Bill DeSmedt
47 MP3 Files – 20 Hours 24 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Podiobooks.com
Published: 2006
Themes: / Science Fiction / Hard SF / Tunguska Event / Black Holes / Time Travel / Near Future/ Cloak & Dagger / Quantum Physics / Soviet Union /

June 30th, 1908 – In the remote Tunguska region of Siberia, the most violent cosmic collision in recorded history flattened ancient forests over an area half the size of Rhode Island. Yet after a hundred years of international scientific research the cause of this impact remains a mystery.

Several people told me Singularity was worth listening to. But of course I figured they we’re probably wrong, I’m not easy to please. But because it was FREE I told myself to give it a chance. I have to say I was astounded! After a longish introduction, more of a history lesson, the real story takes off. And boy, does it! Like a Nelson DeMille novel with Saturn V booster strapped to it! This is incisive Hard SF set in a near future with plenty of action, some very cool ideas and even a bit of romance. The plot orbits around the mystery of the 1908 Tunguska Event. The action intertwines cloak and dagger with quantum physics in a tidal dance. I’m no physics major, but the scientific explanations were clear and compelling. You know a story’s good when you end up looking up some of the ideas. The tale is fleshed out through a large cast of central characters: Jonathan Knox, a consultant to elite government agencies, is the engaging lead protagonist. Knox has a knack with finding patterns in giant fields of data – a trait attributable to a voyage his mind went on once. Marianna Bonaventure, his soon to be lover, is a federal government agent on the trail of a missing materials scientist. Physicist Jack Adler is on the same trail as Knox and Marianna, but he doesn’t know it yet. Together, and apart they are in a race that may have been predetermined as unwinnable before it started, only the laws of causality know. Opposing them is a set of rationally motivated villains – with the weight of an multi-billion dollar corporate empire behind them. Leading them is, Arkady Grigoriyevich, who spends most of his time aboard a converted mega-yacht, that is now a floating laboratory. DeSmedt packs about a dozen terrific SF ideas into his tale. Also included in the podcast feed is an informative question and answer bonus MP3 file with the author himself. I am eagerly awaiting the follow-up novel, cleverly titled, Duality.

I tend to enjoy audiobooks narrated by authors, as they know exactly when and where to pause, what words to accentuate and how to pronounce the character names. But DeSmedt was not a perfect narrator, in fact at the start he sounded nervous. I was worried, but gradually as the chapters flowed the anxiety faded, and by the end I he was reading like a professional. Maybe his female voices need a bit more practice, but I swear, all those Russian accents were perfect.

I downloaded Singularity from Podiobooks.com for free, but when I did I could only get the first half of the novel. It was being released piecemeal, chapter by chapter, as podcasts. I have heard many people enjoy this delivery style; and it probably works for serial adventures or short story collections but I don’t like it for novels. I quickly listened to the first 20 chapters of the book in quick succession only to then have to wait for a whole month to finish it. Next time I visit podiobooks.com I’ll be making sure the serialization is completed before starting another novel. Another issue, selecting the next podcast once a chapter was finished was a real bitch. I drive a standard transmission automobile and my iPod is stuck into a faraway cigarette lighter. Every time a chapter of Singularity ended I would be made to reach over to rip my iPod out of the transmitter/charger and then hold on to it and the steering wheel while trying to navigate the menu to figure out which chapter was next. The podcasts delivery system would have been far better if I could have started and the ended the story in the same file, in other words what I needed was one big podcast, the novel in one file.

Our friends at AssistiveMedia.org have been offe…

February 25, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

Online Audio

Assistive MediaOur friends at AssistiveMedia.org have been offering online audio to persons with disabilities since 1998, unfortunately the website doesn’t currently offer easy access to their terrific resources (regrettably the promised podcast feed dedicated to Science Fiction hasn’t materialized yet either). In an effort to make the unnavigable navigable we are compiling a collection of the best SF&F related links for you to enjoy:

Science:
The Quantum Physics Of Time Travel
By David Deutsch and Michael Lockwood; Read by Chris Purchis
38 Minutes | RealAudio |
Copyright © Scientific American 1994
“Common sense may rule out such excursions–but the laws of physics do not.”

Artificial Intelligence And Human Nature
By Charles T. Rubin; Read by Vi Benner
40 minutes | MP3 | RealAudio | [UNABRIDGED]
Copyright © 2003, The New Atlantis

Essay:
The Fisherwoman’s Daughter
By Ursula K. LeGuin; Read by Melissa Stewart
63 minutes | RealAudio | [UNABRIDGED]
copyright © 1990, The New York Times Book Review

Science Fiction:
Nemesis
By Arthur C. Clarke; Read by Ken Phifer
37 Minutes | MP3 | RealAudio | [UNABRIDGED]

Technical Error
By Arthur C. Clarke; Read by David Zinn
37 Minutes | RealAudio | [UNABRIDGED]

Travel By Wire
By Arthur C. Clarke; Read by David Zinn
11 minutes | RealAudio | [UNABRIDGED]

Enjoy!

Review of Timescape By Gregory Benford

June 9, 2005 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

Science Fiction Audiobook - Timescape by Gregory BenfordTimescape
By Gregory Benford; Read by Simon Prebble and Peter Bradbury
11 Cassettes – 15.75 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books LLC
Published: 2001
ISBN: 0788763180
Themes: / Science Fiction / Hard SF / Time Travel / Alternate History / Quantum Physics / Science / Ecology / Philosophy / Astronomy / Britain / USA /

Winner of both the Nebula Award and the John W. Campbell Awards for best science fiction novel, Timescape is an enduring classic that examines the ways that science interacts with everyday life to create the many strange worlds in which we live. In a future wracked by environmental catastrophe and social instability, physicist John Renfrew devises a longshot plan to use tachyons–strange, time-traveling particles–to send a warning to the past. In 1962, Gordon Bernstein, a California researcher, gets Renfrew’s message as a strange pattern of interference in an experiment he’s conducting. As the two men struggle to overcome both the limitations of scientific knowledge and the politics of scientific research, a larger question looms: can a new future arise from the paradox of a forewarned past? With multiple plot lines and diverse characters, Timescape offers something for all lovers of fascinating science and great fiction. Simon Prebble and Peter Bradbury combine for a narration that skillfully uncovers the mysteries beneath our understanding of the universe.

Timescape is a deep novel that explores characters, causal paradoxes, politics, history and physics over time all with equal skill. And despite the serious nature of the narrative there are even a few laughs in there! This isn’t just science fiction it is scientist fiction, that is it is fiction that shows how scientific experimentation in the modern university setting works. Benford, is himself a scientist and he doesnt dumb down the book for us amateurs. I was very surprised that I hadn’t heard how good this novel was previously. I count myself as a fairly knowledgeable fan of science fiction and yet somehow the certain fame of this novel slipped under my radar. I was pleased and surprised as Timescape approaches greatness in it’s chosen domain.

Appropriately Simon Prebble, with his English accent, reads the 1990s chapters of the novel, which are primarily set in England, while Peter Bradbury with his American accent reads the 1960s chapters, set mostly in California. This is the kind of book that was a natural for dual narration. Bradbury and Prebble are both excellent, pronouncing nearly every technical term correctly, in this hard science heavy novel that is no small feat! Recorded Books’ original cover art for this audiobook is even more evocative than the paperback and hardcover editions. Nice work RB! But it’s not all praise. First is an attribution mistake on the front cover of the audiobook, the copy reads “narrated by Simon Prebble and Peter Bradley” (it should read “Bradbury” not “Bradley”). There was also a problem plaguing my copy of Recorded Books cassette audiobooks – the sound level. It may have been only a problem with my copy, but in order to hear this audiobook I had to crank up the stereo to its maximum output level. Recorded Books does however offer to replace defective cassettes, and if the recording level were any lower I’d have to seriously consider taking them up on it. Likely this wouldnt be a factor at all with the CD version but there isn’t a CD version available at this time.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Adventures in Time and Space with Max Merriwell by Pat Murphy

October 19, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

Adventures in Time and Space with Max Merriwell by Pat MurphyAdventures in Time and Space with Max Merriwell
By Pat Murphy; Read by Johanna Ward
7 Cassettes – Approx. 9.5 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
ISBN: 0783128577
Date Published: 2004
Themes: / Science Fiction / Quantum Physics / Pseudonyms / Multiple Universes / The Nature of Fiction /

In this novel by Pat Murphy, the main character (Susan) and her friend Pat (er… Pat Murphy) take a cruise from New York to Europe. On this cruise is a fiction writer named Max Merriwell who offers a writing class that an uncertain Susan is eager to take. Max Merriwell writes not only under his own name, but also under the pseudonyms Mary Maxwell and Welton Merrimax. Rather quickly, Welton Merrimax starts to appear at various places on the cruise ship, and so does Mary Maxwell, which confuses everyone because, well, they’re supposed to be just pseudonyms. Thus begins an entertaining, wild ride of a novel in which alternate realities intersect and events from Max’s novels start to become real.

I went to Pat Murphy’s website and was pleased to find out that the novel is the third book in a wild experiment. Pat Murphy says, “Adventures in Time and Space with Max Merriwell is an adventure story about the nature of fiction.” This nugget opened up so much more of the novel for me – enough so that I’m eager to listen again. It turns out that Murphy published three novels: There and Back Again by Max Merriwell (which is described as the story of The Hobbit retold as space opera), Wild Angel (which “borrows its premise from Tarzan of the Apes“) by Mary Maxwell (a pseudonym for Max Merriwell), and this novel, Adventures in Time and Space with Max Merriwell by Pat Murphy. All the novels were published as written by Pat Murphy because her publisher felt the confusion would be too great to overcome here in the real world. Click here for some notes on Pat Murphy’s (who apparently is real) website to unravel the full story.

With all that said, this delightfully quirky novel works stand-alone. I enjoyed it enough to desire the added depth that finding and reading these other two books and re-listening to this one will undoubtedly provide. Listening again will be a pleasure because Johanna Ward performs well, deftly handling the mayhem that must have had her scratching her head a time or two during production. Her voice is pleasant and a very nice match to this material.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson