Seeing Ear Theatre: Tripping Astral

August 23, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

One very kind person has added an early (perhaps the first) Seeing Ear Theatre production to the Internet Archive! It’s called Tripping Astral and it’s described thusly:

When a matter transfer experiment goes wrong, a scientist finds himself stranded on a alien planet.

I am, of course, adding it to our popular Seeing Ear Theatre post and will add any credits if and when we can find them.

SEEING EAR THEATRE - Tripping AstralTripping Astral
By Brian Smith?; Performed by a full cast
7 Zipped MP3 Files – Approx. 1 Hour 37 Minutes [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Seeing Ear Theatre
Published: 1997
Provider: Archive.org
“An illustrated audio adventure, about Jack Torn, a research scientist on the moon, a possible–or probable?–alien invasion, and a stunning new invention that might just save the world, or end it… So kick back, but bring a bit of your mind, welcome to the theater of the imagination…
PLEASE NOTE: Tripping Astral was originally an illustrated audio production (with “synchronized, streaming pictures and animations”) they are not available at this time.

Episode 1 “Pilot” |MP3|
Episode 2 “Oh Holy Night” |MP3|
Episode 3 “Cavescapes” |MP3|
Episode 4 “Hello Again” |MP3|
Episode 5 “Wanting Wings” |MP3|
Episode 6 “The Fall” |MP3|
Episode 7 “Brooklyn Bridges” |MP3|

[Thanks MSA!]

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #064 – READALONG: The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester

June 28, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #064 – Scott and Jesse talk with Julie Davis and Luke Burrage about The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester!

Talked about on today’s show:
Forgotten Classics, Science Fiction Book Review Podcast, Richard K. Morgan’s The Steel Remains, The Invisible Man, Robert Sheckley’s The Status Civilization, exploding volcanoes, Gulliver Foyle, jaunting as teleporting, BAMF, The Uncanny X-Men, Jumper by Steven Gould, Charles Fort Jaunte (is a reference to Charles Fort), Fortean Times, The Tyger by William Blake,Tā moko (Maori facial tattoo), religion, swearing, tabernac, future swearing, Louis Wu in Larry Niven’s Ringworld, the frivolity of the wealthy, satire, sailing as conspicuous consumption, telepathy, Paul Williams, The Stars My Destination as a “pyrotechnic novel”, the power of the narrative imagery, the audiobook (a Library of Congress Book for the Blind version), the heirs of Alfred Bester are fighting over the rights, transformation, Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, “Most scientific!”, Alfred Bester’s years writing comics, WWII, the Wikipedia entry for The Stars My Destination, synesthesia, the long forgotten histories of synesthesia, Of Time, And Gully Foyle by Neil Gaiman, cyberpunk, a hard-boiled Philip K. Dick novel, passive schlubs, The Count Of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, Pyrenees, the induction scene in William Shakespeare’s The Taming Of The Shrew, a shotgun approach to transformation, The Stars My Destination as meta book, Peter F. Hamilton, the renaissance man, Classics Illustrated #3 The Count Of Monte Cristo, Fourmyle of Ceres, PyrE, (the inspiration for Pyr Books?), Napoleon Bonaparte, thought turning into action, our overcrowded future, Second Life, Surrogates, only in a cyberpunk future, retroactive foreshadowing, the 1991 BBC Radio Drama version of Alfred Bester’s Tiger Tiger, the old language, Hyperion by Dan Simmons, The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, Pyrene, cyborgs, wired nerves, bullet time, you can’t spoil a book like this.

The Stars My Destination (Mediascene No. 36) 1979

The Revenge Of The Cosmonaut by Alfred Bester

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of A Galaxy Trilogy Volume 2 – A Collection of Tales from the Early Days of Science Fiction

May 8, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

A Galaxy Trilogy, Vol. 2A Galaxy Trilogy, Vol. 2 – A Collection of Tales from the Early Days of Science Fiction
By David Osborne, E.L. Arch, and Manly Banister; Read by Tom Weiner
11 CDs – Approx. 13 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2009
ISBN: 9781433291081
Themes: / Science Fiction / Aliens / First Contact / Politics / Cold War / Russia / Washington, D.C. / Colorado / Amnesia / Prophecy / Sociology / Iowa / Teleportation /

Back in the 1950s at the dawn of science fiction, writers were turning out wildly imaginative stories for the pulp magazines. Robert Silverberg, writing as David Osborne, estimates he wrote over a million words in one year. Here are three more exciting stories from those heady days from the pioneers of science fiction.

Discs 1 – 3: Aliens From Space by David Osborne (Robert Silverberg)

First published in 1958, under a pseudonym, this Robert Silverberg short novel is set in a fascinatingly futuristic 1989. It is in a period of relative peace on Earth since the recent collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. With this new détente in the offing only an outside influence could disrupt the path to global harmony. And that is exactly what happens when an alien spacecraft lands in an Iowa cornfield. It seems that these aliens have been watching Earth for millennia, and now we are on the cusp of ‘regular interplanetary travel’ these alien beings wish Earth to accept their hand/tentacle in friendship. This aid would be especially needed too as it seems there is another alien species out there in the galaxy – one which would likely destroy the Earth, and all humans, given half a chance. A team of diplomats and scientists from around the world is quickly assembled to negotiate a treaty and alliance. Among them is Professor Brewster, a prominent scientist of psychosociology. He thinks the aliens are hiding something. But could it just be their very alienness? He points out the advanced technology they offer comes with its own problem; receiving technology from an technologically advanced civilization doesn’t advance the recipient’s own culture – it merely makes the culture dependent upon the giver’s civilization. But is that a small cost compared with annihilation?

A friend of mine pointed out that Greg Bear’s 1987 novel The Forge Of God has a similar premise. There are many terrific ideas in the gloriously short novel. Aliens From Space is a kind of cold war apologue, a prisoner’s dilemma situation. Wrong action invites destruction or at the very least, great loss. In a way the Brewster character reminded me of Jared Diamond (of Guns, Germs And Steel fame). Diamond and Brewster, by asking interesting questions, find interesting answers.

Discs 4 – 7: The Man With Three Eyes by E.L. Arch (Rachel Cosgrove Payes)

The Man With Three Eyes is not a terrific Science Fiction novel. But, it is a fair meta-Science Fictional story. It works well as a quasi-period piece/alien invasion story/Agatha Christie-style mystery. It’s set in 1967 New York, more specifically in Greenwich Village. It’s protagonist, I won’t call him a hero, is an Irishman, Dan Gorman. He works as a Science Fiction magazine illustrator and lives in Mrs. Mumble’s boardinghouse. That’s the central location for the plot, as it’s a virtual United Nations of ethnically diverse characters. There’s an Afghan, a German, a Mohawk, a Welshman, an Eskimo (not an Inuit), an Ethiopian, and a refugee from Hong Kong. They all seem to get along pretty well until Dan accidentally places himself in the middle of an alien espionage ring operating out of a dead drop joke shop. There, he picks up a “third eye” and takes it to a party to impress a girl. It doesn’t work like he expects (but then I can’t imagine it’d work at all), and instead acts like the titular object in H.G. Wells’ short story The Crystal Egg (giving the user a vision of aliens on another planet). Dan then leaves the party and looses the eye in his own apartment. The next two thirds of the novel feature everyone hunting for it.

Sound confusing? It is, at least a bit. I found myself wondering how fast E.L. Arch had written The Man With Three Eyes Or if he had written it on a bet. But, like I said, I think it kind of works anyway. It’s not really a good Science Fiction story, but it ain’t a bad story and can probably tell you a lot about how Science Fiction stories were written in the mid 1960s New York. It felt quite a bit like what I imagine time travel to Greenwich Village in the 1960s would feel like.

Discs 8 – 11: Conquest Of Earth by Manly Banister

The aliens came to earth more than two ice ages ago. Now, under millenia of domination by these invaders, one Man amongst a small cadre of six Men with mental powers, elite combat training and a deep education in all things human, can manoeuver to throw off the chains that have sapped Earth of most of its precious resource, water.

Like the Bene Gesserit from Frank Herbert’s Dune, Manly Banister has created a far future quasi-planetary romance with and especially compelling depiction of what it would mean to be trained to detect and interpret every nuance of human physiology. In fact this whole short novel is like a pocket version of Dune – what with all the quasi-religious/scientific ideas, the overlords, the secret societies and the deserty planet-ness. Conquest of Earth may have more ideas per hour as any other audiobook I’ve listened to in the last decade. When Kor Danay (aka the Scarlet Sage) graduates from his training he begins a quick journey across Earth that leads to scenes of assassination, disguise, mind reading and later an unusual trip off-world with a quickly romanced wife named, get this, Soma! One reviewer called the plot “aimless” and “desultory” and I can see that. The whole story feels disjointed in a way that cannot really be understated. Kor has many abilities the set him apart from other people, and even his fellow “Men.” First up, he has the ability to speed up the molecules of his body so as to, from his perspective, stop time! This trope, by the way, was probably first proposed in the The New Accelerator by H.G. Wells, and later by Star Trek in an episode called “Wink Of An Eye.” One lengthy later sequence features another quasi-Star Trek fore-echo too, namely in “The Paradise Syndrome.“ Did I mention that Kor also has a ”Divisible Mind” which may be the key to defeating the enemy Trisz? He does!

In terms of the style of writing, well, there is a nice soliloquized-style explanation of why the Trisz should not be thought of as actually evil despite being insidious energy beings or a being who rule (or rules) the Earth with an iron fist. There is a lot of other zany stuff going on in this novel: teleportation, trickery, a prophetic computer, and a dose of amnesia (for good measure). I will admit Conquest Of Earth comes off as if it was plotted by a mish-mash of meth’d up aliens in order to win a stream of consciousness contest, but somehow it really didn’t seem to bother me. And, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear it had won.

David Osborne is an acknowledged pseudonym of Robert Silverberg. E.L. Arch was a pseudonym of Rachel Cosgrove Payes (being an anagram of her first name: “Rachel”). But it is entirely unclear to me who Manly Banister is or was. There is some discussion of the improbably named Manly Banister HERE, but no Wikipedia article currently exists on this person. Even the narrator name, Tom Weiner, is an alias.

Narrator Tom Weiner’s voice lends depth and presence to the three novels – he adds an appropriate alien lisp to some of the alien speakers, plays around with accents and delivers it all a gravitas and seriousness that doesnt mock this fun material. Listening to A Galaxy Trilogy Volume 2 felt very rewarding!

A minor issue with this collection includes the distinct lack of markings on the discs. 11 CDs are in the set, with three short novels, but none of them is marked with which novels are on which discs. On the other hand, all three novels begin at the beginning of a CD.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Week 1: Think Like a Dinosaur by James Patrick Kelly

March 1, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

SFFaudio celebrates its 7th anniversary this month! What better way to celebrate than with more posts? I’m going to listen to one short story every weekday through the month of March, and tell you all about it here. Here’s the first!

Science Fiction Audiobook - Think Like a Dinosaur by James Patrick KellyThink Like a Dinosaur
By James Patrick Kelly; Read by James Patrick Kelly
1 Hr – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: James Patrick Kelly
Published: 2007
Themes: / Science Fiction / Aliens / Physical Laws / Morality / Teleportation /

Before the rest of us knew what this podcasting stuff was all about, James Patrick Kelly was busy reading his stories into a microphone and publishing them over in the “Free Reads” section of jimkelly.net. Many stories have reached his Free Reads listeners, including his Hugo-winning novella Burn. And he’s still at it; his current Nebula nominee, “Going Deep” can be found over there too, free for the downloading.

“Think Like a Dinosaur” was part of another fine audio delivery innovation. In partnership with Audible.com, Jim published 4 sets of stories, called StoryPods, as podcasts-for-purchase delivered through Audible. You can still buy the StoryPods or the individual stories at Audible.

But the story – this is one of those stories that keeps you thinking long afterwards. Like Tom Godwin’s “The Cold Equations” (JPK explains in the afterword exactly how that story influenced this one), the main character is presented with a moral dilemma of the highest order. Things are not exactly the same as in “The Cold Equations”, though, because it’s not clear if the concept of “harmony” is something invented by the aliens in the story, or is an actual, unbreakable physical law.

On thing is for certain, though. “Think Like a Dinosaur” has become as much a part of science fiction’s Great Conversation as Godwin’s story. Required reading!

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

The SFFaudio Podcast #033

August 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #033 – Jesse and Scott are burning bright this podcast. We’re talking new releases, recent arrivals, and future audiobook releases. We also briefly discuss the 2009 Hugo Awards. Around the middle we talk about BBC radio drama, specifically those based on the writings of Iain M. Banks and Alfred Bester. Feeling tenser? Perhaps you know the answer to this question…

“How can you get away with murder when everyone knows your thoughts?”

Talked about on today’s show:
New Releases, Recent Arrivals, Infinivox, Aliens Rule edited by Alan Kaster, How Music Begins by James Van Pelt, Okanaggan Falls by Carolyn Ives Gilman, Laws Of Survival by Nancy Kress, Full Cast Audio, Emperor Mage by Tamora Pierce, Red Planet by Robert A. Heinlein, William Dufris, Have Space Suit Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein |READ OUR REVIEW|, Tantor Media, The White Plague by Frank Herbert, Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert, The Road To Dune |READ OUR REVIEW|, Ireland, Whipping Star by Frank Herbert, The Coming Of Conan The Cimmerian by Robert E. Howard, Todd McLaren, METAtroplis The Dawn Of Uncivilization |READ OUR REVIEW|, Brilliance Audio, Audible.com, Brilliance Audio is releasing hardcopy DRM free versions of the Audible Frontiers audiobooks, Kurt Vonnegut, Audible Modern Vanguard, Dennis Boutsikaris, A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving, Fear Nothing by Dean Koontz, Keith Szarabajka, Sfsignal.com story on Iain M. Banks’ next novel Transition (podcast or audiobook?), RadioArchive.cc, State Of The Art (BBC Radio Drama) based on the story by Iain M. Banks, BoingBoing story on Geoff Ryman’s novel The Child Garden to be podcast (with music), Simon Bloom: The Octopus Effect by Michael Reisman, Simon Bloom: The Gravity Keeper by Michael Reisman |READ OUR REVIEW|, The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester or Tiger Tiger by Alfred Bester, there is no audiobook version of The Stars My Destination, the 1991 BBC Radio Drama version of Alfred Bester’s Tiger Tiger, telepathy, teleportation (jaunting), The Demolished Man would make an amazing audio drama, Fondly Fahrenheit by Alfred Bester, the 2009 Hugo award winners, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman |READ OUR REVIEW|, Shoggoths In Bloom by Elizabeth Bear (SSS Aural Delights version), Exhalation by Ted Chiang, The Erdman Nexus by Nancy Kress (is not available in audio), Inside Job by Connie Willis (is), Drive by James Sallis (a novella, is too), Wii Sports Resort, Wii Motion Plus, Bowman, turning off cable TV, X-Box 360, Wii Fit, Netflix, watching soccer/football without TV, Free:The Future Of A Radical Price by Chris Anderson, YouTube Star Wars fan Lego animation vs. Lucas Star Wars on DVD.

Posted by Jesse Willis

BBC Radio 4: a caveman comedy and

June 3, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

BBC Radio 4Our U.K. radio spotter, Roy, has pointed out a couple of recent BBC broadcasts that are still available for your listening pleasure.

BBC R4 Monday 1st June 11:30-12:00 Newfangle episode 1/6.
Radio Times says:

“Sitcom set among a tribe of proto-humans. Newfangle is bottom of the heap – despised by his mother, savaged by Alf on a daily basis and ignored by Snaggle, his favourite female. But Newfangle is a hominid with big ideas. In this opening episode he invents language, which he hopes will transform his situation, only to find words have a way of being twisted to unpleasant uses”.

BBC R4 Tuesday 2nd June 14:15-15:00 Afternoon Play: On Ego
Says the Radio Times:

“Alex believes people and emotions are just a bunch of neurons and uses a teleportation device to prove it. When the machine malfunctions, & his wife falls ill, he is forced to question his beliefs. A Sci- Fi drama from writer Mick Gordon and neuropsychologist Paul Broks”.

These are still be available via ‘listen again’ – or even better via Radio Downloader!

[Thanks Roy!]

Posted by Jesse Willis

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