Review of Assassin’s Code by Jonathan Maberry

March 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Assassin’s Code: Book 4 of The Joe Ledger Novels
By Jonathan Maberry; Read by Ray Porter
15.5 Hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Published: 2012
Themes: / Horror / Supernatural / Military /

In my trade, confidence is built on a platform whose legs are made up of good intelligence, continuous training, proper equipment, and field support. I had a sick dog, a dead man’s gun, a stolen briefcase, a vampire hunter’s stake in my belt, and a cell phone…

Joe’s dealt with zombies, the island of Dr. Moreau, and the Seven Plagues of Egypt. Surely nothing can surprise him now. At least that’s what he thinks.

After rescuing American college students held hostage in Iran, Joe is contacted with the alarming news that the Iranians want his help in locating six stolen nuclear bombs. Nukes are soon the least of Joe’s problems when he’s attacked by super-powered killers who are probably genetically engineered and may actually be unbeatable. Certainly, it’s the first time he’s been told to “run away” when he calls Mr. Church for orders. The mysterious assassin Violin, with her mommy issues, adds an intriguing element that I liked, although her name made me snicker. Whose side is she really on? Toss in the mysterious Book of Shadows together with an age-old Holy Inquisition* that’s gone off the rails and you’ve got a fast-paced thriller with the usual slight touch of science needed to make us wonder “could it happen…” As usual Joe is sarcastic but has the heart of a warrior so he never quits.

As always, Ray Porter IS Joe Ledger. As I’ve said before, his narration is the reason I wait for the audio books instead of snapping up the printed versions. He’s got a direct, blunt delivery that can go from sarcastic to heart-felt to outraged in 60 seconds. Believably. That’s good because sometimes that’s the way Joe’s day goes.

The fourth entry to the Joe Ledger series piles surprise upon surprise until there are so many moving parts you need a score card to keep up. That’s ok. The ride is most of the fun anyway. It was refreshing to see Echo Team on an assignment that didn’t involve anything supernatural or genetically engineered. It also explained why Joe is sometimes incredulous about the strange situations in which he becomes embroiled. He’s so deep into rescuing college kids that he just plain forgets about his first zombie killing assignment.

Yeah right.

That excuse doesn’t really work for the many times that people who should know better protest, “What? Supernatural? That’s just crazy!” That really is the weakest part of these stories. Shouldn’t Echo Team be surprised if there isn’t a monster or super-villain somewhere in the shadows?

This was a return to the Joe Ledger adventure style of the first book in a way, which I liked very much. It also satisfactorily tied up some loose ends that had been accumulating through the last book or two. Highly recommended for those who enjoyed the previous books.

* Catholics needn’t worry. Maberry plays fast and loose with elements but he’s generally respectful of religions. Any Catholics involved in this were lied to, folks. Lied to!

Posted by Julie D.

Review of The Dead Man, Volume 3: The Beast Within, Fire & Ice, Carnival of Death

January 27, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

The Dead Man Vol. 3The Dead Man, Volume 3: The Beast Within, Fire & Ice, Carnival of Death
By Lee Goldberg, William Rabkin, James Daniels, Jude Hardin, Bill Crider; Performed by Luke Daniels, James Daniels
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
[UNABRIDGED] – 8 hours

Themes: / Horror / Supernatural / Death /

Publisher Summary:

Matt seeks out a paranoid visionary who claims to have defeated an entity just like Mr. Dark. His quest takes him deep into the Michigan woods — and into a bloody siege between warring, paramilitary factions in James Daniels’ THE BEAST WITHIN. In Jude Hardin’s FIRE AND ICE, Matt is trapped inside an industrial plant during a deadly shooting rampage. As the body count rises, the cunning Mr. Dark raises the stakes to horrifying new heights, putting thousands of lives at risk. Matt is working security on the midway in Bill Crider’s CARNIVAL OF DEATH. But when violence breaks out and a fake fortune teller’s dark prophecies suddenly begin coming true, Matt knows that Mr. Dark has arrived and it’s not for the cotton candy…

The Dead Man series of novellas was launched by Lee Goldberg & William Rabkin. Originally conceived as television series about Matt Cahill AKA “the Dead Man,” a man who after surviving being frozen for several months returns to life with supernatural abilities. The project creators dusted off their episode ideas and farmed them out to a series of both new and established authors to let them each give their own novella-length take to the story. Past and upcoming authors include Christa Faust, Anthony Neil Smith, James Reasoner, and in this volume Bill Crider just to name a few.

The audiobooks have been packaged together in groups of three, with each novella spanning approximately 2 compact discs with stories averaging  a couple of hours each. First up on Vol. 3 of the series is The Beast Within by James Daniels. In this tale the Dead Man travels thousands of miles to seek answers in small Michigan town and finds himself caught in the middle of a mini-war between rival factions of a militant white supremacist cult. This the second Dead Man novella to be penned by James Daniels. In fact, his first ever published work Ring of Knives can be found as part of the Dead Man, Vol. 1 Audiobook. In both volumes, James Daniels handles narration duties on his own novellas himself, with his brother Luke narrating the other stories. James and Luke Daniels have both narrated other Brilliance audiobooks with Luke having recorded over 100 different titles including works by Ed McBain, Philip K. Dick, and George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards series.

The volume’s second contribution is written by author Jude Hardin and is entitled Fire and Ice. Matt Cahill takes a temporary job on one of his itinerant stops and finds Mr. Dark’s hand at work even at factory that produces industrial-strength cleaners. Instead of chapters, the action takes place as the clock ticks away giving the narrative a “real-time” feel that translates very well to the audiobook format leading into the final story of the volume, Bill Crider’s Carnival of Death where the carnage visit the circus environment with all of the obligatory elements: a palm reader, snake lady,and of course Mr. Dark himself. Each author gives their own unique spin on the character and story making for entertaining listening while keeping with the dark and violent nature of this horror series.

“The Dead Man” music video: :

Review by Dan VK.

Review of In the Tall Grass by Stephen King and Joe Hill

October 21, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Horror Audiobook - In the Tall Grass by Stephen King and Joe HillIn the Tall Grass
By Stephen King and Joe Hill; Read by Stephen Lang
Approx. 90 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Audio
Published: 2012
Themes: / Horror / Separation / Supernatural /

Cal and Becky are brother and sister, born 18 months apart, and inseparable. It’s said that there was never a cross word between them. They stop by the side of the road one day after hearing a cry for help from a field full of tall grass. They go into the field to help, but the moment they do they are supernaturally unable to find each other. They can’t find the person that cried for help either, but they are not alone in the grass.

Some stories stay with you. This is one of those. By creating main characters that were so emotionally close, Stephen King and Joe Hill delivered an experience of the horror of separation to their readers. This story would be tough to watch if it were a film – it’s grisly, gory, and this is a terrifying situation.

Stephen Lang narrated admirably. He had my attention to the very last sentence.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Joe Ledger: The Missing Files by Jonathan Maberry

August 22, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Horror Audiobook - Joe Ledger: The Missing Files by Jonathan MaberryJoe Ledger: The Missing Files
By Jonathan Maberry; Read by Ray Porter
4 Hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2012
Themes: / Short Stories / Supernatural / Horror / Bio-engineering /

The description for this brief collection of short stories says “… author Jonathan Maberry fills in the blanks in his action-thriller ‘Joe Ledger’ novels.”

This isn’t something I’d have picked up myself and, frankly, wouldn’t have bothered if it weren’t sent as a review book. I am usually disinterested in add-on short stories that sew up “loose ends” of novels or serve to tell us what a character’s been doing between one book and the next. In my experience, those are toss-offs and these days, what with 99-cent stories on Amazon, they just serve as money grabbers.

However, we all know I’m a sucker for Joe Ledger and I absolutely love the narrator’s way with these stories so if I wasted a few hours on mental cotton candy so be it. Also I was mildly interested in what seem to be two stories that aren’t connected to any novels, “Deep, Dark” and “Material Witness.”

Countdown: The prequel to Patient Zero and it told me nothing I didn’t learn in the beginning of the book. Honestly, it seemed as if it were a story prospectus given to a publisher to gain interest.

Zero Tolerance: The second story added a little to Patient Zero‘s ending since it could have been called “What Happened to Amirah.” (Pardon my spelling as I’ve only heard the audio for the novel.) Worth paying for? Not to me.

Deep, Dark: With the third story we get to something interesting. As is the case in Joe Ledger novels, it teeters on the knife’s edge between probability and supernatural/horror fiction. The Army has a little problem in one of their underground complexes. A little bio-engineered problem. It’s just a “bug hunt,” as it goes in one of my favorite lines from Aliens, but one that has righteousness on its side.

Material Witness: This story was more interesting than anything preceding it (or following, as it turned out … yes, foreshadowing!). However, that was mostly because Maberry was filling us in on another series of his: the creepiness that is Pine Deep, Pennsylvania. Imagine the house from The Shining, but … it’s a whole town! Maberry’s melding of the two worlds was rather intriguing but not enough to make me want to get whatever book it was he wrote about Pine Deep. For one thing, spoilers abound. I wonder if I already knew all about that “world” if the story would have kept my attention as it did.

Dog Days: The final story and the one which was the test of whether Maberry had improved at short story writing or whether the previous two just created interest because of the unfamiliar material. Yep. Choose door number two. It wasn’t a terrible story, just extremely easy to figure out as Joe Ledger goes to settle a personal grudge against the world’s deadliest assassin. The most interesting thing about it to me was the introduction of Ghost, the wonder dog. One feels (at least I do) that this should have been a prequel or flashback in The King of Plagues. I especially feel this since I spent much of the beginning of that book wondering what the heck happened to Ledger’s cat and why only one or two sentences gave us the dog’s history. This almost reads as discovery writing or something that was edited from a book. Ghost is ok, but he is definitely “made” to be Ledger’s dog, as he is a Wonder Dog with super-canine reflexes and understanding.

Summing up – these files could’ve stayed missing. It’s only four hours long but that is four hours you could use on something uniformly good.

Posted by Julie D.

Free Listens Review: The Willows by Algernon Blackwood

October 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

Review

The Willows by Algernon Blackwood

SourceLibriVox (zipped mp3s)
Length: 2 hours, 21 minutes
Reader: Michael Thomas Robinson

 

The book: Considered one of the greatest stories in horror literature, The Willows lives up to its reputation. Two friends canoeing down the Danube stop for the night on an island in the middle of a huge expanse of willow trees. The place seems mystic, almost otherworldly, and in the night the two interlopers find out why.

Blackwood could have set this story in any exotic river in the world, but he chose the Danube. This river, which runs through the heart of Europe, is the wildness that runs through what was then the epitome of civilization. As the atmosphere of this turns from idyllic to terrifying, Blackwood is showing that the unknown horrors of the world can be anywhere, even where we should be the most safe. This, I think, is the most horrifying realization of all.

Rating: 9 / 10

The reader: At first, I was not impressed by Robinson’s voice. He’s somewhat nasal, and starts the book with a bored, straightforward style. As the story went on, though, I realized the initial bored tone was probably intentional, contrasting with the building dread of the story. His pace quickens and slows to build the tension, drawing the listener into the horror of what the narrator is experiencing. Despite my early misgivings, I greatly enjoyed this reading.

Posted by Seth

The SFFaudio Podcast #128

October 3, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #128 – Scott, Jesse, Tamahome and Luke Burrage talk about recently arrived audiobooks, new releases and more.

Talked about on today’s show:
Germline by T.C. McCarthy, Russia vs. United States, Kazakhstan, Blackstone Audio, Hannah, Finland, unapologetic fairy tale imagery, Brothers Grimm, Tama is a sucker for girls who kick ass, Kick-Ass, Bourne Identity, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Full Cast Audio, Tunnel In The Sky by Robert A. Heinlein, interplanetary survival course, “Rod Walker, as Heinlein Intended“, Ozzy in Pandora’s Star by Peter F. Hamilton, Between Planets, Space Cadet, Perseus by Geraldine, Hercules, Odyssey, Magic Steps by Tamora Pierce, young adult books, The City And The Stars, abstracting the voices of the characters, Jesse enthuses about Full Cast Audio’s format, Blackstone Audio, Downward To Earth by Robert Silveberg (it draws from Heart Of Darkness, The Secret Sharer by Robert Silverberg, The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad, “the heart of lightness”, The Hidden by Jessica Verday, The Hidden (movie) with Kyle MacLachlan, The Hollow, The Haunted, supernatural/romance/YA, “maybe Jenny can take up the lance”, Macmillan Audio, How Firm A Foundation by David Weber, On Basilisk Station, “Steve Gibson loves it”, George R.R. Martin, the Writing Excuses podcast, I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells, “it’s very tempting to kill everyone”, Star Wars: Heir To The Empire by Timothy Zahn (20th Anniversary Edition), Mark Thompson, Splinter Of The Mind’s Eye (Luke and Leia get married), the Han Solo novels, Michael A. Stackpole, Star Trek novelizations vs. Star Wars novelizations, Wookipedia, perhaps Lucas was lucky and not talented, Leigh Brackett, Lawrence Kasdan, Stories Of The Golden Age: The Tramp and Shadows From Boothill, Jenny is late, War Of The Worlds by H.G. Wells, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury, The Island Of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells, Moxyland by Lauren Beukes, Zoo City, South Africa, China Miéville audiobooks flood audible, Iain M. Banks, Audible Frontiers vs. Audible Ltd., Ready Player One sounds like nostalgia not SF, everybody who wears spandex and legwarmers likes Ready Player One, the Gweek podcast, virtual world, Daemon by Daniel Suarez, Blackstone Audio, The Ringworld Engineers, To Sail Beyond The Sunset by Robert A. Heinlein, Origin Of The Species by Charles Darwin, Recorded Books, Amnesia Moon by Jonathan Lethem, Lawrence Block audiobooks, Hard Case Crime, Getting Off by Jill Emerson (Lawrence Block), AudioGo, Such Men Are Dangerous by Lawrence Block, The Specialists, Coward’s Kiss, You Could Call It Murder, Small Town, Paul Kavanagh, Michael Crichton, Eaters Of The Dead, Smoke by Donald E. Westlake, The Comedy Is Finished by Donald E. Westlake, Psycho by Robert Bloch, Stand On Zanzibar by John Brunner, Luke’s novel Minding Tomorrow, does Stand On Zanzibar have a cylindrical structure?, long stuff tends to be crappy, Luke is on Audible’s platinum plan, Spin by Robert Charles Wilson, Courtney Brown’s Science Fiction And Politics podcast, Spellwright by Blake Charlton, spell errors?, “as you well know…”, Flashforward by Robert J. Sawyer, The Swarm by Frank Schatzing, Beyond This Horizon by Robert A. Heinlein, tie-in novels, Dan Abnett’s Warmhammer 40,000: Horus Heresy series, Black Library, “a fist the size of a baked ham”, Jesse’s meta review of Luke’s meta review of Sword Of The Lichtor by Gene Wolfe, Halting State by Charles Stross, Luke’s pick of the week: Monty Python’s The Life Of Brian, Jesus’ final words on the cross, Jesse’s pick of the week: Invincible Ultimate Edition Volume 1 written by Robert Kirkman, Ed Brubaker, Gregg Rucka, Scott’s pick of the week: Declare by Tim Powers, On Stranger Tides, is Declare idea fiction?, Kim Philby, Tamahome’s pick of the week: The Mote In God’s Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.

Invincible Ultimate Collection Volume 1

Posted by Jesse Willis

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