Review of Spin by Robert Charles Wilson

September 16, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Spin by Robert Charles WilsonSpin
By Robert Charles Wilson; Read by Scott Brick
Audible Download – 17 Hours and 33 Minutes – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Published: 2008
Themes: / Science Fiction / Hard SF / Medicine / Time / Space / Physics /

This Hugo Award winning novel (2006) is a novel of two parts in my mind. The first, which involves the covering of the entire Earth with a complex membrane, is some of the most exciting hard science fiction I’ve read in a long time. Picture yourself lying on a lawn, looking up at the stars… and they go out. As awe-inspiring as a Clarke novel, Wilson tells us what the world’s scientists come up with as they try to answer the big questions. What is happening? Why is it happening? Is there a “who” behind it? An outline of this book could be written that would look like a knotted string, each knot being an important and sometimes jaw-dropping idea. “The Spin”, as the phenomenon is called by the characters, grips the Earth tightly and apparently permanently. Initial discoveries find that the membrane has created a time difference between life on Earth and life in the rest of the universe. A minute passes here while years pass out there. A few days of time here, and empires would rise and fall outside, if they existed. Do they?

The second part of this novel is the connecting material, or the rest of the string. I didn’t find this as interesting as the Big Idea stuff while I was listening. In retrospect, I do appreciate what Wilson illustrated with his characters, but the plot won’t be what I remember when I talk about this novel in the future. Frankly, about halfway through the novel, I wanted to skim the sections that focused on the characters, not because they were poorly written, but because I simply couldn’t wait for what was really interesting me about the novel – more info about “The Spin”. Of course, I can’t skim an audiobook, so I dealt with the suspense and just kept listening. (Note to self: Add “lack of ability to skim” to the list of plusses for audiobooks. If I had read this book in print I would have skimmed – this way I got the whole novel.)

The story is about three main characters. Jason and Diane Lawton are the twin children of an entrepreneur. Tyler Dupree, the first person narrator, is a close friend. The three, as children, witness the beginning of “The Spin” together, lying on a lawn at a party attended by their parents. The event alters their lives, and the lives of all humans, but time marches on, the kids grow up, and, though each one lets “The Spin” define their lives, they each deal with the new reality in a completely different way. It is there that my appreciation for this aspect of the novel lies; how different we all are, and how different our reactions to the very same event. Some turn to religion, some turn to science, some to their business, and some to help their fellow man.

I’m not a person who dislikes a good character driven story. If I’m reading a piece of fiction that’s not genre, I’m likely to be reading something from the general fiction section of the bookstore, as opposed to mysteries or military thrillers. But still, I found it difficult to focus on parts of this novel, probably because I was listening to a story largely about people reacting to “The Spin”, rather than a story about the people that were actively trying to figure it out. Though one of the three main characters is indeed a scientist that is deeply involved, I wasn’t hearing a story about those scientists and exactly what they were doing. In other words, a lot of really interesting stuff is happening off stage while the novel was focused elsewhere.

Scott Brick narrates, always a plus from my perspective, and is a great match with this book. He does very well with science “ooo wow” moments, and there are plenty here. A quibble for the accuracy department: a mispronounced word that unfortunately is used often during a portion of the book. “Oort cloud”.

All in all – another fine audiobook from Macmillan Audio – it is available exclusively as a download from Audible and iTunes.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

The SFFaudio Podcast #002

September 8, 2008 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe first one they made was so good they recorded a sequel! Indeed, The SFFaudio Podcast #002 is even more blockbustery (with 20% more bluster).

In show double-oh-two Scott D. Danielson and Jesse Willis talk about audiobooks, audio drama, and the correct pronunciation of the word “orgy.” We also talked about Recent Arrivals, New Releases, LibriVox, what we’ve been listening to, and where. It’s a big, big, show!

Topics under discussion include:

The Last Theorem, Carnival, Elizabeth Bear, L. Ron Hubbard, Galaxy Press, Zeppelins, airships, Michael Chabon, our new Publishers page, Grover Gardner, The Number 23, Scott Brick, Paul Of Dune, Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson, The Little Book, Selden Edwards, Brad Meltzer, The Book Of Lies, Superman, Orhan Pamuk, the Entitled Opinions podcast, Turkey, Ottoman Empire, Michael Flynn, Blackstone Audio, The January Dancer, Eifelheim, Podiobooks.com, The Kiribati Test, Jim Thompson, The Grifters, Philip K. Dick, Macmillan Audio, Anathem, Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash, The Diamond Age, Cryptonomicon, Waldentapes, Star Trek, LibriVox, Space Viking, Mark Douglas Nelson, H. Beam Piper (and our new AUTHOR PAGE for him), The Green Odyssey, The Second SFFaudio Challenge, Brandon Sanderson, Orthopedic Horseshoes, Edo van Belkom (he’s the ex-school bus driver), The Accidental Time Machine, Joe Haldeman, The Forever War, “Our Last Words”, Damon Kaswell, time travel, Peter Watts, Blindsight, Recorded Books, the Chinese room argument, artificial intelligence, Spin, Axis, Robert Charles Wilson, Robert J. Sawyer, David Brin, Startide Rising, The Immortal, Roger Zelazny, Audiofile Magazine, George R.R. Martin, A Clash Of Kings, Temüjin, audio drama, Gate, The Sonic Society, Jack J. Ward, Wormwood, acting, Michael Caine, Irwin Allen, The Swarm, Star Wars, Liam Neeson, Thulsa Doom vs. Luke Skywalker, pronunciation, mis-pronunciation, The Savage Sword Of Conan, John Varley, Audible Frontiers.

Subscribe to the feed:

http://www.sffaudio.com/?feed=podcast

Posted by Jesse Willis

Hypaspace Podcast interviews: Shatner, Sawyer, Takei, Hopkinson, Wilson + MORE

May 26, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Space The Imagination Station - Hypaspace PodcastThe HypaSpace podcast, which is put out by Space: The Imagination Station, talks about the Aurora Awards, and talks to Nalo Hopkinson, Robert J. Sawyer, William Shatner, George Takei, Alessandro Julianni, and Robert Charles Wilson in the latest podcast. Have a listen |MP3| or subscribe to the feed via THIS LINK.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The StarShipSofa podcast metamorphs into a Podcast Magazine

May 1, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio, Podcasts 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Star Ship Sofa Podcast Science Fiction MagazineThe StarShipSofa podcast is metamorphosing into the StarShipSofa – The Audio Science Fiction Magazine, following in the great tradition of magazines like Analog, Asimovs and Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Each week the StarShipSofa will deliver a full package of SF related audio material all free including audio fiction, fact audio essays, flash fiction and poetry, all by leading names in the SF field.

Many many writers have agreed to let StarShipSofa narrate their works including Ben Bova, Joe Haldeman, Alistair Reynolds and M. John Harrison to name a few.

There will be two shows per week, the Wednesday show, also know as “Aural Delights” will contain narrated audio fiction, fact and poetry and the weekend show will be an in depth look into an author’s life and work.

This week saw the first of the metamorphosing with the StarShipSofa’s Aural Delights show. Fiction was provided by Kage Baker’s fantastic story The Likely Lad, there were two poems by Bruce Boston and Laurel Winter, both winners of the Rhysling Award for SF Poetry. Flash fiction came from a very short but very powerful story called Repeating The Past by Peter Watts, author of the SF novel Blindsight.

In the weeks to come Peter Watts will also be delivering a monthly narrated fact article; this part of the show will be called “Reality, Remastered.”

As for the weekend shows, StarShipSofa has her sights upon writers such as John Scalzi, Robert Charles Wilson and Ken Macleod.

It is a great time for SF at the moment and with the many advantages the Internet can bring, StarShipSofa wants to be one of the very first to deliver the full package in audio science fiction.

Subscribe to the podcast via this feed:http://www.starshipsofa.com/rss

Posted by Tony C. Smith

New Releases – An Audible.com downpour of audiobooks

March 10, 2008 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: New Releases 

New Releases

Well why not start a New Releases post off with a year old audiobook? Yup, we missed an important release. Narrator Simon Vance sez of the audiobook:

“‘HMS Terror’ actually existed as a ship and the names used in the book are those of the actual crew. Other things mentioned in the book are based on fact as well – like the life boat found miles from the ship with certain items in it. I think Dan Simmons has done a masterful job weaving this tale in amongst the facts of the case.”

And author Dan Simmons himself sez of it:

The Terror, while definitely containing elements of the fantastic and horrorific, was definitely not SF and was four-out-five-parts historical novel to one part horror or fantasy.”

It got nominated for a Stoker Award and is rumored to be on the Hugo ballot too.

Horror Audiobook - The Terror by Dan SimmonsThe Terror
By Dan Simmons; Read by Simon Vance
CDs – 8 Hours 47 Minutes [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Published: March 2007
ISBN: 1600240763
Listen to an |MP3| sample
The men on board HMS Terror have every expectation of triumph. As part of the 1845 Franklin Expedition, the first steam-powered vessels ever to search for the legendary Northwest Passage, they are as scientifically supported an enterprise as has ever set forth. As they enter a second summer in the Arctic Circle without a thaw, though, they are stranded in a nightmarish landscape of encroaching ice and darkness. Endlessly cold, with diminishing rations, 126 men fight to survive with poisonous food, a dwindling supply of coal, and ships buckling in the grip of crushing ice. But their real enemy is far more terrifying. There is something out there in the frigid darkness: an unseen predator stalking their ship, a monstrous terror constantly clawing to get in.

An audible exclusive by a wife and husband team…

Island Realm: Crystal Doors, Book 1 by Rebecca Moesta and Kevin J. AndersonIsland Realm: Crystal Doors, Book 1
By Rebecca Moesta and Kevin J. Anderson; Read by Joshua Swanson
Audible Format – 8 hours and 15 min. [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audible.com
Published: March 2008
Fourteen-year-old cousins Gwen and Vic have lived together ever since the mysterious deaths of Gwen’s parents and the disappearance of Vic’s mother. But Vic’s scientist father accidentally transports them through a magical crystal door to the island of Elantya. Cobblestone streets and silver towers mark the picturesque island, a trading hub and center of knowledge that runs on advanced physics and sorcery. Vic and Gwen are soon caught in a tempest of ancient magic, vicious creatures, fierce battles, and a territorial feud with the sea-dwelling Merlons.

And the sequel…

Ocean Realm: Crystal Doors, Book 2 by Rebecca Moesta and Kevin J. AndersonOcean Realm: Crystal Doors, Book 2
By Rebecca Moesta and Kevin J. Anderson; Read by Joshua Swanson
Audible Format – 8 Hours 5 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audible.com
Published: March 2008
Gwen and Vic are still celebrating their victory in the battle with the Merlons when they learn that Vic’s father has finally made it through the crystal doors to the magical island of Elantya. But their victory is short-lived when they and their friends are kidnapped by their underwater enemies and taken beneath the sea. There, they learn of a scheme that could bring Elantya to ruins. Can they escape in time to save the island from destruction?

The anticipated third in the series of Brad Lansky adventures was just released (after almost two years since the last episode). Where have you been Brad? What adventures have you had? Find out…

Science Fiction Audio Drama - Brad Lansky and the Face of Eternal FireBrad Lansky and the Face of Eternal Fire
By J.D. Venne; Performed by a full cast
1 CD or MP3 Download – Approx. 1 hour [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Protophonic.net / Spoken Network
Published: February 2008
Brad and Alex spent two years exploring the Cygnus arm of the Milky Way when they received a classified message from the Sol Ambassador to the Trilux System. Fifty Earth-years have elapsed since they parted ways with Giri Null in Trilux, and much has happened in that time; Giri Null somehow managed to win over most of the Grefim and execute his plans for a new culture with alarming speed. Those who opted not to follow their new Lord promptly invaded planet Lithom, destabilizing all of Trilux.

This audiobook picks up where “Skylark Three” left off…

Science Fiction Audiobook - Skylark of Valeron by E.E. Doc SmithSkylark of Valeron (Skylark Series – Book 3)
By E.E. Doc Smith; Read by Reed McColm
1 MP3 CD – Approx. 9.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Books In Motion
Published: March 2008
ISBN: 1596078855
Our hero families are in deep space when they are attacked by the intellectuals. In order to survive the attack they rotate into the 4th demention and are captured. They must make it back to 3space and find their way home. Unfortunately they find themselves hopelessly lost but are able to save another race and make their way home!

Hugo Award + Scott Brick = MUST LISTEN!

Science Fiction Audiobook - Spin by Robert Charles WilsonSpin
By Robert Charles Wilson; Read by Scott Brick
Audible Format – 17 Hours 33 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audible.com / Macmillan Audio
Published: March 2008
One night when he was 10, Tyler stood in his backyard and watched the stars go out. They flared into brilliance, then disappeared, replaced by an empty black barrier. He and his best friends, Jason and Diane Lawton, had seen what became known as the Big Blackout. It would shape their lives. The “sun” is now a featureless disk – a heat source, rather than an astronomical object. The moon is gone, but tides remain. The world’s artificial satellites have fallen out of orbit. Eventually, space probes reveal that the barrier is artificial, generated by huge alien artifacts. Time passes faster outside the barrier – more than a hundred million years per day on Earth. At this rate, the death of the sun is only about forty years away. Jason, now a promising young scientist, devotes his life to working against this slow-moving apocalypse. Diane throws herself into hedonism, marrying a sinister cult leader who’s forged a religion out of the fears of the masses. Earth sends terraforming machines, then humans, to Mars…and immediately an emissary returns with thousands of stories about the settling of Mars. Then an identical barrier appears around Mars. Life on Earth is about to get much, much stranger.

Abridged audiobooks were more common in 1999, here is a nice sounding example of the stuff that Audible is gathering from the dustier corners of the world…

The Midwich Cuckoos by John WyndhamThe Midwich Cuckoos
By John Wyndham; Read by Jeremy Clyde
2 cassettes or Audible Download – Approx. 3 Hours [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: CSA WORD / Audible.com
Published: November 1999 / March 2008
ISBN: 9781901768480
A string of pregnancies start in the village of Midwich and nine months later sees the birth of some very unusual children. One of the classic science fiction novels which has spawned two films called Village of the Damned.

Not the original novel (which sadly isn’t available on audio yet) but some sort of quasi-prequel to the movie…

Jumper: Griffin’s Story by Steven GouldJumper: Griffin’s Story
By Steven Gould; Read by Ted Barker
Audible Download – 6 Hour 51 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audible.com / Macmillan Audio
Published: March 2008
Griffin has a secret. It’s a secret that he’s sworn to his parents to keep and never tell. Griffin is a Jumper: a person who can teleport to any place he has ever been. The first time was when he was four, and his parents crossed an ocean to protect the secret. The most important time was when he was nine. That was the day that the men came to his house and murdered his parents. Griffin knows that the men were looking for him, and he must never let them find him. Griffin grows up with only two goals: to survive, and to kill the people who want him dead. And a jumper bent on revenge is not going to let anything stand in his way.

And lastly, here is an absolutely fascinating idea for an audiobook, I’ll see if I cant get one of my ESL students to review this one…

ESL AUDIOBOOK - I, Robot for Learners of English by Isaac Asimov‘I, Robot’ for Learners of English
By Isaac Asimov; Read by Tricia Reilly
Audible Format -2 Hours 31 Minutes [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audible.com / Pan Macmillan Publishers Ltd.
Published: March 2008
Isaac Asimov’s classic collection of stories about a society where humans and robots live and work together on Earth and in outer space is both disturbing and prophetic. –The Macmillan Readers series is one of the most popular and respected series of readers for learners of English. Macmillan Readers are simplified retellings of an original work. They are created by highly experienced ELT writers.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Scott Brick’s narrative problem – how to swear in Flemish

January 28, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Scott Brick PresentsAudiobook narrator Scott Brick has posted a funny and informative blog post/podcast to his website, ScottBrickPresents.com. Scott has been working on an audiobook of Robert Charles Wilson’s Spin (it should be available in March 2008) – but ran in to a snag recently. How the hell could he pronounce this Flemish curse phrase from the novel:

“Godverdomme mijn koten miljardedju”?

Have a read of the post or have a listen |MP3|, Scott has narrated his blog post as if it was an audiobook!

Posted by Jesse Willis

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