LibriVox: The Island Of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells

March 2, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Science Fiction Audio Book - The Island Of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells

Started back in August 2006, the latest Science Fiction classic from LibriVox.org is The Island Of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells. As with many LibriVox titles this one was a multi-reader audiobook project.

Science Fiction Audio Book - The Island Of Dr. Moreau by H.G. WellsThe Island Of Dr. Moreau
By H.G. Wells; Read by various readers
1 Zipped Folder of MP3 Files – 4 Hours 38 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Completed: March 2nd 2007
The Island of Doctor Moreau is an 1896 science fiction novel written by H. G. Wells, addressing ideas of society and community, human nature and identity, religion, Darwinism, and eugenics.

When the novel was written in the late 19th century, England’s scientific community was engulfed by debates on animal vivisection. Interest groups were even formed to tackle the issue: the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection was formed two years after the publication of the novel. The novel is presented as a discovered manuscript, introduced by the narrator’s nephew; it then ‘transcribes’ the tale.

Review of The Fluted Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

January 18, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Audiobook Review

Science Fiction Audiobook - Fluted Girl by Paolo BacigalupiThe Fluted Girl
By Paolo Bacigalupi ; Read by Shodra Marie
1 CD – 62 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Infinivox
Published: 2006
ISBN: 1884612369
Themes: / Science Fiction / Technology / Society / Politics /

The Fluted Girl huddled in the darkness clutching Steven’s final gift in her small pale hands. Madam Balarie would be looking for her. The servants would be sniffing through the castle like feral dogs.

Everything is possible in Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Fluted Girl. All you ever wanted is here but it all has a price, and often the physical cost is just way to steep. Cell knitters, Revitia treatments and stolen body parts, halt, stop, and improve all manner of the human body. And the goal here… simply to improve one’s social standing in Bacigalupi’s decadent future world. Enter into this world of capitalistic dreams, twin girls. With a lifetime of treatments behind them they are now ready to take to the stage as human flutes in a performance that should delight everyone. That is, everyone except the twins.

From the moment Shondra Marie’s voice submerses you into this world you are dreading the final outcome. With Marie’s voice and Bacigalupi’s guidance you are unable to leave this story until the final outcome has been spoken. This is a tale that lingers…well after the hour is up and it is well advised to re-play this one, just to catch all the hints and tricks Bacigalupi uses to make this such a moving tale. Infinivox has unearthed an exceptional gem of a story here in The Fluted Girl and with their production they’ve polished it to a fine diamond. Well done. Listen to this story if only to see the opulent world that Paolo Bacigalupi’s has created but once you’re there… you’re in until the end… that I promise.

[Editor’s note: Infinivox is now offering an MP3 download for The Fluted Girl and 6 other recently released audiobooks – and they’re even DISCOUNTED!]

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 The Night Of The Triffids By Simon Clark

November 5, 2004 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

The Night of the Triffids by Simon ClarkThe Night Of The Triffids
By Simon Clark; Read by Stephen Pacey
10 Cassettes – 12 Hours 30 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Chivers Audio
Published: 2002
ISBN: 0754007669
Themes: / Science Fiction / Disaster / Society /

I was twelve years old when I discovered John Wyndham’s awe-inspiring The Day of the Triffids. For me, standing between the world of childhood and the mysterious new world of adulthood, it was a revelation [it] wasn’t merely a good story; it was such a powerful transforming experience that the hero’s struggle for survival has stayed with me ever since.”
-Author Simon Clark

Chock full of adventure, action, politics, revolution, and romance, The Night Of The Triffids is horror author Simon Clark’s sequel to the venerable 1951 John Wyndham novel The Day Of The Triffids. Wyndam’s story was about a confluence of two natural disasters – the appearance of some strange green lights in the sky that blinded anyone who looked at them and the subsequent rampage of a carnivorous walking plant called a Triffid – which was previously only a curiosity. The narrator of that tale was Bill Masen, a man who by pure chance managed to avoid becoming blinded like 99% of humanity. At the end of The Day Of The Triffids, the hero, Bill Masen and his wife and four-year-old son David leave the British mainland to join a new colony on the Isle of Wight. In a way that story was a kind of retelling of The War Of The Worlds, excepting that the aliens weren’t from Mars. That novel was a powerful disaster tale heavily influenced by the cold war era in which it was set. Simon Clark’s sequel takes place twenty-five years. It is told by David Masen, Bill Masen’s now grown-up son, who is an aviator in the fledgling Isle of Wight Airforce. The Masen family, along with a handful of other British survivors, have started rebuilding society on that Island off the south of Britain. But when a new disaster strikes humanity in its weakened state may not survive.

There are very few genuine science fiction elements in this book, the closest being the soft science fiction idea of adopting new values for new situations. As an example, the few remaining people have decided to take a crash effort to increase the population – and in so doing have created something called “Mother Houses”. These are convent-like homes where fertile women give birth and infertile women raise babies – all in an effort to maximize the birth rate. I’m not sure if Clark knew it or not but frighteningly, the Nazis’, had something similar – the “Lebensborn,” which were mother houses, set up by Heinrich Himmler to care for unmarried pregnant women whose “racial” characteristics (blond hair, blue eyes) fit the Nazis’ Aryan ideal. “Racially pure” SS members were encouraged to visit often and sire many young children for the Fuhrer. Horrific as such a baby factory sounds in The Night Of The Triffids this is but one of the ‘necessary evils’ that society is experimenting with. The good news is that it all manages to replicate
much of the feel of The Day Of The Triffids, but where Clark really stumbles is with the plotting. The opening scene and the ensuing couple of chapters are very interesting, and made me wonder where it all was going. But that mystery was dropped until a throw away explanation in the final chapter. And as the Brits say that ‘just isn’t cricket’. The whole book has a stumbling along bumbling along plot that doesn’t allow you to guess where it might be going – perhaps this was in part due to what I would assume was to be its target audience – preteens and young teens – heck it may have even been a stylistic choice. I don’t know.

What I do know is that what success Night Of The Triffids does have is due in no small part to the first person perspective. English narrator Stephen Pacey does good work with the compassionate everyman David Masen, his other voices including variously accented Americans are good too, though they were fairly easy to tell that it was a ‘put-on’ accents. If you’re not expecting it to surpass much less equal the original The Night Of The Triffids will be acceptable entertainment.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of To Your Scattered Bodies Go By Philip Jose Farmer

August 13, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

Science Fiction Audiobooks - To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip Jose FarmerTo Your Scattered Bodies Go
By Philip Jose Farmer; Read by Paul Hecht
6 Cassettes – 7.75 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books Inc.
Published: 2000
ISBN: 0788763261
Themes: / Science Fiction / Resurrection / Society / Aliens /

Paul Hecht reads this Hugo Award-winning novel by Philip Jose Farmer. The novel begins with the resurrection of millions of people from throughout human history. They awaken in a great river, swim to the surface, and emerge onto the shore.

The story’s main character is Sir Richard Burton, an adventurer who lived from 1821 to 1890. He immediately finds himself leader of a small group of people which includes a prehistoric man, a Victorian woman, and an alien. This afterlife is no heaven, though, as people barely get over the fact that they are alive again before they start fighting each other for the usual reasons humans do.

Burton’s attention turns to the river itself, and he decides to build a boat and find its source, hoping then to find the answers to his questions – Who resurrected them? And why? The answer to this question changes throughout the book as more is revealed and the characters figure things out.

Another significant character is Nazi Hermann Goering who picks up from where he left off on Earth, enslaving Jews and engaging in battle wherever he can find it. The exchanges between Goering and Burton are the highlight of the book. That humankind can be resurrected without changing is a dismal thought, and I think the main theme of this novel. But mankind’s adventurous spirit is also represented as honorable in Burton’s character.

Paul Hecht is a good reader who does well with this material. He was a bit dry at times, but was very listenable and successfully held my attention.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

« Previous Page