Review of Honor Among Thieves: Star Wars by James S.A. Corey

March 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Honor Among Thieves: Star WarsHonor Among Thieves: Star Wars (Empire and Rebellion)
By James S.A. Corey, read by Marc Thompson
Publisher: Random House Audio
Publication Date: 4 March 2014
[UNABRIDGED] – 9 hours, 52 minutes

Themes:  / Star Wars / rebellion /

Publisher Summary:

Nebula and Hugo Award nominees Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck—writing as James S. A. Corey—make their Star Wars debut in this brand-new epic adventure featuring Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia Organa. The action begins after the destruction of the Death Star in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope.

When the Empire threatens the galaxy’s new hope, will Han, Luke, and Leia become its last chance? When the mission is to extract a high-level rebel spy from the very heart of the Empire, Leia Organa knows the best man for the job is Han Solo—something the princess and the smuggler can finally agree on. After all, for a guy who broke into an Imperial cell block and helped destroy the Death Star, the assignment sounds simple enough.

But when Han locates the brash rebel agent, Scarlet Hark, she’s determined to stay behind enemy lines. A pirate plans to sell a cache of stolen secrets that the Empire would destroy entire worlds to protect—including the planet where Leia is currently meeting with rebel sympathizers. Scarlet wants to track down the thief and steal the bounty herself, and Han has no choice but to go along if he’s to keep everyone involved from getting themselves killed. From teeming city streets to a lethal jungle to a trap-filled alien temple, Han, Chewbacca, Leia, and their daring new comrade confront one ambush, double cross, and firestorm after another as they try to keep crucial intel out of Imperial hands.

But even with the crack support of Luke Skywalker’s x-wing squadron, the Alliance heroes may be hopelessly outgunned in their final battle for the highest of stakes: the power to liberate the galaxy from tyranny or ensure the Empire’s reign of darkness forever.

Honor Among Thieves is a great Star Wars book. This is the second book of the Empire and Rebellion trilogy but fear not, there is no overarching plot to worry about and the only thing relating the two books so far is just that they take place between Episodes 4 and 5. The plot is pretty decent but whatever it may lack is completely made up for in the characterization and interaction of the characters I didn’t realize I was missing in other Star Wars novels. The charisma feels a lot more like the character interaction from the original trilogy than any other time period in the books. The main short coming of the novel is that nothing major can happen in this book because it is essentially a side adventure that takes place between Episodes 4 and 5 of the original trilogy. I would recommend this book to any Star Wars fan whether or not they’ve read any Star Wars novels before.

As you can tell by the cover, this story mainly follows Han Solo as he goes on a mission to extract the Rebel Alliance agent Scarlet Hark from deep cover in the Empire. He struggles along the way with how far he is willing to go for the Rebel Alliance and whether he thinks they could become as controlling as the Empire they are trying to usurp. Scarlet Hark kind of takes the place of Leia as this strong, attractive female that Han can verbally parry with as they go along in their adventure. Luke and Leia are present too but in more of a limited capacity for much of the story.

Speaking of verbal parrying, James S.A. Corey does a great job with the character interaction in this story. One of the reason why I haven’t really liked the prequel trilogy is that the characters felt stiff toward each other, even those that were supposedly falling in love. As I said earlier, this novel follows much more closely in the vein of the original trilogy where the characters banter with each other and feel like they have much deeper relationships or a history that this novel builds on. Other Star Wars books are great (particularly the ones by Timothy Zahn), but they rarely have this kind of warm interaction between the characters. There is some genuine humor and even some silliness in this book asidde from the common slight comic relief normally present in Star Wars books. I would say that this part of the novel was so good that I’m actually going to go read some James S.A. Corey novels just because I enjoyed the writing style so much in this book.

As for the audio side of things, Marc Thompson does a great job with the voices as usual. The impersonations of well known characters are well done and new voices are quite entertaining. I particularly enjoyed his Hunter Maas voice because it was perfect for the swagger of that character. The novel also gave some great moments for Marc Thompson to use some great surfer dude and valley girl voices that were pretty great for the characters. His voices for Scarlet Hark and Leia were so similar though that they were hard to tell apart, especially when in the same conversation. As for Chewbacca, I think other books use canned sounds (pretty sure) but some of his parts in this book are more….unique…and all of his parts are done specifically for this book. This can be good at times but I kind of found it distracting because it didn’t sound like the Chewbacca I’m used to. The sound effects and music were just about as good as you’d expect from your typical Star Wars novel.

Posted by Tom Schreck

The SFFaudio Podcast #056 – READALONG: The Status Civilization by Robert Sheckley

April 26, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #056 – Jesse and Scott talk with Rick Jackson, Gregg Margarite, Jerry Stearns and Julie Davis about Robert Sheckley’s The Status Civilization!

Talked about on today’s show:
Wonder Publishing Group (Wonder Audio and Wonder Ebooks), LibriVox.org, Acoustic Pulp, Sound Affects, Great Northern Audio Theatre, Doctor Who, The Prisoner, Riverworld by Philip Jose Farmer, deep Science Fiction, Deathworld by Harry Harrison, The Space Merchants (aka Gravy Planet) by Frederik Pohl and Cyril M. Kornbluth, Preferred Risk by Frederik Pohl and Lester del Rey, Gladiator At Law by Frederik Pohl and Cyril M. Kornbluth, Anarchaos by Donald E. Westlake, a religion based on evil, satire, Friedrich Nietzsche‘s “master-slave morality,” good and evil, David Hume‘, the naturalistic fallacy, cognitive dissonance, original sin (aka atavistic guilt), Skulking Permit by Robert Sheckley, Breaking Point by James Gunn |READ OUR REVIEW|, psychology, society, robots, This Perfect Day by Ira Levin, utopia, dystopia, libertarianism, rebellion, “a benign evil,” narrating audiobooks, Mark Douglas Nelson, This Crowded Earth by Robert Bloch, Deathworld 2 by Harry Harrison, Watchbird by Robert Sheckley, Second Variety by Philip K. Dick, Tunnel Under The World by Frederik Pohl, Bellona Times, X-Minus One, Mark Time , Yuri Rasovsky, Raymond Z. Gallun, Bing, Seeing Ear Theatre, Orson And The Alien, The SFFaudio Challenge, turning modern public domain books into audio drama, Night Of The Cooters by Howard Waldrop, Jack J. Ward, The Sonic Society, Brian Price, Alfred Bester‘s review of The Status Civilization (from The Magazine Of Fantasy And Science Fiction, December 1960), the naming of “Tetrahyde”, a readalong on The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester, the “amazing” audio drama version from BBC Tiger Tiger, The Count Of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, Frederik Pohl’s review of The Status Civilization (from January 1961 issue of Worlds Of If), the competition between the LibriVox and the commercial versions of audiobooks, Plato’s Cave, precognition, John W. Campbell, skrenning, scrying, Icelandic cook books!

The Status Civilzation (Planet Of The Criminals) GERMAN INTERIOR
The Status Civilzation (Planet Of The Criminals) GERMAN INTERIOR
The Status Civilzation (Planet Of The Criminals) GERMAN INTERIOR
The Status Civilization (Planet Of The Criminals) GERMAN INTERIOR
The Status Civilization (Planet Of The Criminals) GERMAN INTERIOR
The Status Civilization by Robert Sheckley
Signet - The Status Civilization by Robert Sheckley

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Starship: Rebel by Mike Resnick

February 22, 2009 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Reviews, SFFaudio essential 

SFFaudio Review

Audible Frontiers - Starship: Rebel, Book 4 by Mike ResickSFFaudio EssentialStarship: Rebel
By Mike Resnick; Read by Jonathan Davis
Audible Download – 8 Hours 45 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audible Frontiers
Published: December 16th 2008
Themes: / Science Fiction / Space Opera / Galactic Civilization / Aliens / Rebellion / War / Military SF / Space Station /

The date is 1968 of the Galactic Era, almost three thousand years from now. The Republic, dominated by the human race, is in the midst of an all-out war with the Teroni Federation. Almost a year has passed since the events of Starship: Mercenary. Captain Wilson Cole now commands a fleet of almost fifty ships, and he has become the single greatest military force on the Inner Frontier. With one exception. The Republic still comes and goes as it pleases, taking what it wants, conscripting men, and extorting taxes, even though the Frontier worlds receive nothing in exchange. And, of course, the government still wants Wilson Cole and the starship Theodore Roosevelt. He has no interest in confronting such an overwhelming force, and constantly steers clear of them. Then an incident occurs that changes everything, and Cole declares war on the Republic. Outnumbered and always outgunned, his fleet is no match for the Republic’s millions of military vessels, even after he forges alliances with the warlords he previously hunted down. It’s a hopeless cause…but that’s just what Wilson Cole and the Teddy R. are best at.

A good audiobook can make a regular day enjoyable. A great audiobook can put a delightful spring in your step for a whole week. Starship: Rebel has made for absolutely terrific listening. As I was listening to it over the course of a week or so I’d wake up in the morning, remember that I’d still got a few hours of listening left, and smile as if I’d won the Nobel Prize for luck. I’ve heaped a lot of praise for this terrific series of audiobooks since Audible Frontiers started releasing it back in Spring 2008. The closest I’ve come to criticism has been a little humming and hawing about how the series is ‘short on ideas and originality.’ That, it feels like a better version of Star Wars. And that’s all still true, nothing in the Starship series feels anything like innovative. The weapons technology has no new ideas, the faster than light space travel relies on the same few tropes, the aliens are all Star Wars-ish. Despite this, there is an amazing feeling of being safely ensconced in the hands of a master storyteller when listening to this series. The team of writer Mike Resnick with narrator Jonathan Davis is absolutely stupendous.

With this book, Book 4, Resnick is raising the stakes by forcing Captain Cole and the crew of the Theodore Roosevelt to take on the Republic itself. And that’s good, but it isn’t everything. Resnick also pulls an unexpected maneuver – a very important character is killed about a third of the way into the novel – and that hit, a real hit, shakes up that feeling of familiarity and safety in a way that just freezing Han Solo into a block of carbonite can never do. Barring accidents I expect to be enjoying another terrific week when Starship: Flagship, the 5th and final book in the Starship series, comes out in December 2009.

Posted by Jesse Willis

BBC7 presents: Down and Safe (Blake’s 7)

August 26, 2008 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Audio Drama 

SFFaudio Online Audio

BBC Radio 7 - BBC7

Down and Safe: A Celebration of Blake’s 7
Presented by fan Mitch Benn.
Airdate: August 25, 2008 (aired 3 times).

Holy moly, I was busy and away and almost missed this excellent radio retrospective of Blake’s 7. (Fortunately for all of us, it is still available to listen to -see below.) Clocking in at three hours, Down and Safe covers the whole shebang, from the groundbreaking and influential late 70’s television series to the latest version reimagined and presented as audio drama, with clips and snippets and informed commentary and…

…And, speaking of audio drama, well, check out the BBC7 blurb: The BBC 7 bank holiday rebellion starts with the history and rebirth of a sci-fi classic, with episodes including The Syndleton Experiment (1999), Liberator (2007) and When Vila Met Gan (2008).

Yep, you heard right. Three complete full cast audio plays -they form the bulk of the show; three different and very entertaining takes on the Blake’s 7 universe that you shouldn’t miss (unless you have a very good excuse like, say, hives). So, space science fiction luvvers everywhere, be sure to check out Down and Safe here, here, here (RealPlayer required) or here (webpage – RealPlayer required) through Sunday, August 31!

Posted by RC of RTSF

BBC 7 has Blake’s 7

December 27, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

BBC 7's The 7th DimensionWait! wait! Don’t miss it! BBC7 is broadcasting the Sci-Fi Channel UK’s audio drama series of Blake’s 7! This was the show we told you about back in May, written by Doctor Who writer Ben Aaronovitch this series is morally complex, deeply noir, and sounding slicker than ever in its now feature length format (it previously aired in 5 minute segments). Go right now and get the first part of the first series before its gone from the site, starting with…

Blake's 7Blake’s 7: Rebel
Episode 1 of 3 – Approx. 1 Hour [AUDIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: BBC7 / The 7th Dimension
Broadcast: December 26th 2007

Get it now, via the “listen again” feature.

Exiled to the notorious prison planet of Cygnus Alpha, the Federation thinks it has seen the last of Roj Blake.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Songmaster by Orson Scott Card

February 7, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Audiobook Review

Audiobook - Songmaster, by Orson Scott CardSongmaster
By Orson Scott Card; Read by Stefan Rudnicki
10 CDs, 9 Cassettes,or 1 MP3 disc – 12.5 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2006
ISBN: 9780786178421 (CDs), 9780786180578 (MP3-CD), 9780786135097 (Cassettes)
Themes: / Science Fiction / Galactic Empire / Music / Education / Children / Despotism / Rebellion /

This early novel by Card is a precursor of many things to come from this great author. One of Orson’s favorite themes is that of a child with extraordinary talent coming of age. The child’s name is Ansset, and at very young age he is sent to the sequestered Songhouse. In the Songhouse, a powerful form of singing is taught that creates an abnormally strong emotional response in the listener. Ansset turns out to be exceptionally gifted singer and is groomed to be a Songbird.

The emperor, Mikal, who most believe to be the most horrible tyrant of the galaxy, wants to have a Songbird. Ansset is sent as a child to be Mikal’s Songbird. But there’s more to Ansset than what appears on the surface.

The writer’s credo “show, don’t tell” had to be abandoned in a sense. How does an author write about the impact of the music being sung without describing it? (telling). After all, the writer’s tools are words and not music. Card does show us the emotional impact that listeners have to the singing, so in that sense he is showing us. The great power of the songbird’s music could emotionally ravage a listener for good or ill. As a reader/listener, we need to believe this. So, how well does this novel succeed when it is about music, but is written in prose? In one word— beautifully. In the hands of less expressive author this could have been clumsy technique. This is a touching novel, in which you’ll care for Ansset.

The audiobook is narrated beautifully by Stefan Rudnicki. Mr. Rudnicki conveys an introspective and measured performance that suits the novel perfectly. There are parts of the text that he has to convey by singing. He does this in an understated manner that doesn’t undermine the emotional context of the scene. And the recording is up to the usually high standards that we expect of a Blackstone audiobook. If you’re fan of Ender’s Game or Card’s other works and you haven’t read or heard Songmaster—get it! If you’re not familiar with OSC’s works, this is a good place to start.