The SFFaudio Podcast #046

January 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #046 – Jesse and Scott talk audiobooks, hard SF, current theatrical movies, Kenneth Oppel‘s Skybreaker and the new Gene Wolfe audiobooks at Audible.com! We also debut a new feature (boldly stolen from the late lamented Sofanauts Podcast). RIP.

Talked about on today’s show:
bananas, Smoke by Donald E. Westlake, invisibility, humor, the Richard Stark novels are only funny to psychopaths, crime, Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You by Donald Westlake (Westlake’s open letter to Science Fiction on why he’s not writing SF anymore), Philip K. Dick’s interview on Hour 25, Those Sexy Vintage Sleaze Books: A Blog About Vintage Soft Core Paperbacks, Robert Silverberg, Lawrence Block, paperbackswap.com, The Ax and The Hook by Donald E. Westlake, The Engines Of God by Jack McDevitt, Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke, aliens, xenoarcheology, terraforming, Tom Weiner, hard SF, 2010: Odyssey Two by Arthur C. Clarke, exoplanets, social science fiction, soft SF, The Windup Girl by Paulo Bacigalupi, androids, first contact, Calculating God by Robert J. Sawyer |READ OUR REVIEW|, how to win any argument about modern SF: bring up Ted Chiang, The Story Of Your Life by Ted Chiang, The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells, Starship: Flagship by Mike Resnick, hero characters doing villainous things, Island Of The Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell, Summer Of The Monkeys by Wilson Rawls, Dolphin Island by Arthur C. Clarke, hovercraft, Australia, 2010: The Year We Make Contact, marine biology, District 9, the MacGuffin in District 9 is stupid, Avatar, Sharlto Copley, Star Trek, Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel, Full Cast Audio, audio drama, Science Fiction, alternate history, Fantasy, airships, pirates, lifting gasses, phrenology, Howard Hughes, Thomas Edison, Graphic Audio, Brandon Sanderson‘s Warbreaker, Elizabeth Moon‘s Serrano Legacy series, audio drama is for truckers!, Jesse’s pick of the week: William Friedkin‘s Sorcerer (1977), laserdiscs, the great thing about laserdiscs!, VHSrips!, The Wages Of Fear (1953), Scott’s Pick of the week: Gene Wolfe’s The Book Of The New Sun (a novel in four parts), narrated by Jonathan Davis, the SFFaudio Yahoo! Group, Audible.com, Blake’s 7 The Early Years – Jenna: The Trial / The Dust Run (Vol. 1.5), Carrie Dobro, Babylon 5: Crusade, the Blake’s 7 television series, Blake’s 7 is the best audio drama space opera series ever!, Brian AldissHelleconia series, Non-Stop by Brian Aldiss, Best SF Stories of Brian W. Aldiss, the fix-up novel, Dreamsongs by George R.R. Martin |READ OUR REVIEW|, Maps In A Mirror by Orson Scott Card, short stories turned into novels, Karen Makes Out (a short story), Out Of Sight (a novel) by Elmore Leonard, Out Of Sight (the film), Karen Sisco, Meatball Fulton‘s Ruby The Galactic Gumshoe, NPR, Recorded Books, The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross, what Jesse wants for his birthday: the complete fiction of Ted Chiang in audio, The Bishop’s Heir by Katherine Kurtz, the Deryni series, David Weber, series should end!

Posted by Jesse Willis

Archive.org: CBC Radio Vancouver – The Kraken Wakes based on the novel by John Wyndham

October 28, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Someone has posted a 1965 CBC Radio dramatization of the “apocalyptic science fiction novel” by John Wyndham’s novel The Kraken Wakes to Archive.org. Unlike a lot of OTR (old time radio) this is very likely not in the public domain (as claimed on the site), but does qualify as the audio drama equivalent of abandonware (as CBC never rebroadcast it or made it commercially available) – either way if you’re going to hear it it’d be wise to be quick about it.

CBC Radio Vancouver - The Kraken Wakes based on the novel by John WyndhamThe Kraken Wakes
Based on the novel by John Wyndham; Adapted by Eric Cameron; Performed by a full cast
5 Zipped MP3 Files – Approx. 2.5 Hours [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio Vancouver
Broadcast: 1965
Provider: Archive.org
At first, the fireballs seemed to be nothing more than a dazzling display of lights in the sky, plunging into the deepest oceans and disappearing without trace. But when ships started sinking inexplicably and the sea-lanes became impassable it seemed that the world was facing a threat of unprecedented proportions. Recorded at CBC Radio Vancouver.

Starring:
Sam Paine
Shirley Broderick
Michael Irwin
Derek Walston
Allan Routon
John White
Ivar Harries
Greg Barnes
Peter Brockington
Otto Lowy
Roland Hunter
Sound effects by Lars Eastholm
Produced and directed by Norman Euton
Technical operations by Ian Stephens

Incidently there is a BBC radio drama version of The Kraken Wakes that’s commercially available.

Posted by Jesse Willis

CBC Ideas / Entitled Opinions – an interview

July 13, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

I don’t get a ton of feedback on most posts. So, I tend to argue, mostly with myself, that Science Fiction and Fantasy includes a great many things: Crime, Noir, Horror, History, ancient literature, philosophy, mythology.

Today I might try to argue that the SFF genre is ‘larger than it appears,’ or that ‘much that many would define as within SFF actually isn’t’ (i.e. the stuff I don’t care about). Or I might argue both.

Now that I’ve carefully constructed a wall to indemnify myself against phantom accusations of “off topic” – I’d like to talk about gardening.

A couple months back CBC Radio One’s Ideas producer, Richard Handler, talked to Robert Harrison, the host of one of my favorite podcasts, Entitled Opinions. Topics discussed in the interview include Dante, the dead, the origins of Stanford University, Karel Čapek, and gardening.

CBC Radio One - IdeasCBC Radio One – Ideas
1 |MP3| – Approx. 53 Minutes [INTERVIEW]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio One / Ideas
Broadcast: Thursday March 5th, 2009
Robert Harrison is an eminent American scholar and a Dante specialist by trade. He wants the humanities to ask big and searching questions. He even runs an intellectual talk show from his perch at Stanford University.

If after this you’re more interested in gardening, check or Handler’s BLOG POST on the “gardening” topic.

Also, mentioned in the above podcast is Harrison’s show on Heart Of Darkness – it’s awesome |MP3|. I’ve put both files in my HuffDuffer feed, I hope you check them out.

Posted by Jesse Willis

P.S. Apocalypse Al, I haven’t forgotten you!

Review of Kirinyaga: A Fable Of Utopia by Mike Resnick

December 31, 2006 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Reviews, SFFaudio essential 

SFFaudio Audiobook Review

Science Fiction Audiobook - Kirinyaga by Mike ResnickKirinyaga: A Fable of Utopia
By Mike Resnick; Read by Paul Michael Garcia
8 CDs or 1 MP3 CD – 10 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2006
ISBN: 9780786167906 (CD), 9780786174218 (MP3-CD)
Themes: / Science Fiction / Utopia / Dystopia / Terraforming / Sociology / Kikuyu / Storytelling /

“The Kikuyu turned their backs on their traditions once; the result is a mechanized, impoverished, overcrowded country that is no longer populated by Kikuyu, or Maasai, or Luo, or Wakamba, but by a new, artificial tribe known only as Kenyans. We here on Kirinyaga are true Kikuyu, and we will not make that mistake again. If the rains are late, a ram must be sacrificed. If a man’s veracity is questioned, he must undergo the ordeal of the githani trial. If an infant is born with a thahu upon it, it must be put to death.”

Originally published as ten short stories in magazines and collections during the 1980s and 1990s, the novelized Kirinyaga: A Fable of Utopia is one of the definitive examinations of the concept of utopia. These are stories about storytelling, intertwining resentment, mimesis, comparative morality, and the purpose of human existence.

The desire for a better life can lead people to covet an idealized lifestyle, either one of imagination or of tradition. In the 1970s a back to the land movement led a segment of the North American population to go rural, a place most of them had never been before. Most returned home, the conditions were too harsh for those used to the cushy modern society they were brought up in. The promise for a better life via idealistic visions has also created relatively enduring people’s republics the world over. But no people have more incentive to strive for utopia more than those who had their’s stolen from them. The indigenous peoples of the world lament the demolition of their pre-colonization folkways. What if the devastation that resulted from contact between colonizers and indigenous people could somehow be undone? Would those peoples be satisfied to return to the lives of their ancestors as they were prior to contact? Mike Resnick has answers, the most obvious of which is that utopia is not a destination, not a fixed set of cultural behaviors or even the complete happiness of a people. But I may be saying too much. Let it be said then that the pull of “European” technologies and products is so compelling it is hard to imagine forgoing them – more, the meme that things can be different is itself enough to cause change. Enter Kiringyaga: A Fable Of Utopia which relentlessly and unflinchingly examines the struggle for a perfect society.

Though the specific folkways Resnick has chosen to follow in the Kirinyaga stories is that of the Kikuyu of East Africa, these exploratory fictions are equally applicable to Haisla, Bakhtiari, Basque or Maori. The lessons taught by the Koriba, the mundumugu (witch-doctor) are fables. Tales of lion, elephant, hyena. They are fables for the characters being told them, and the novel itself is a parable for us. As the mundumugu it is Korbia’s job to be the repository of the Kikuyu culture. Koriba is a true believer despite, or perhaps because of studying in the European’s finest schools. What he found there among his colonizers is most assuredly not good for the Kikuyu people. What is good for the Kikuyu people is to embrace the wisdom of their traditional lifestyle. His terraformed planetoid, Kirinyaga, may have been manufactured using European technologies but that doesn’t mean Ngai, the god of the Kikuyu, didn’t give it to his people. In recreating the pre-colonial Kikuyu culture Koriba has many disadvantages. Lions and elephants are extinct, so they can’t threaten his people. Maintenance, the engineering and supervisory arm of the Utopian Council, the institution that gave Kirinyaga its charter keeps interfering with the affairs of Kirinyaga. Koriba can’t even kill a newborn baby that was born with a curse upon it (it was born feet first), without Maintenance trying to intervene. Worse, in isolating themselves upon a planet created only for the Kikuyu they now have no enemies for their young men to be vigilant against. What purpose can their lives serve if the segment of their populace that was supposed to guard their people against danger doesn’t have anyone to guard their culture against? They cannot even raid their neighboring peoples for wives because they have no neighbors! And when a young girl with an extraordinary mind wants to learn to read and write, Koriba must prevent her from corrupting the society – no matter the cost. Girls may not be permitted such things – it is not the Kikuyu way. If she were a male she’d be the be the perfect apprentice to the mundumugu, but because she is a girl she has no prospects except tilling her husband’s fields, bearing his children and gossiping with his other wives. As the mundumugu it is Korbia’s job to be the repository of the Kikuyu culture. He is good at his job, but he is only one man, and despite his mighty magic it remains to be seen what one man, however powerful, can do to hold back the idea of progress.

There are a lot of questions that could have been answered in these stories, how were the utopian worlds constructed? Are they full sized planets or terraformed asteroids? Why would you need to adjust an orbit to induce rain or cause a drought? What other utopias exist? Where are they? Heck, where is Kirinyaga in relation to Earth? Ultimately none of these questions are answered. And that absence distinguishes this as Social Science Fiction as opposed to Hard SF. That said, I’m am convinced Resnick has said something with this series that will endure. The seeming contradictions inherent in the disconnect between our moral attitudes and that of Koriba’s are not easily forgotten. Koriba is a man who will use his computer to cause the rains to fall and then actually sacrifice a goat for the same purpose, and in so doing go out of his way to do something that we enlightened folk know will have no real world effect. Is the wisdom he imparts less valid because its source is not falsifiable? Is the magic he wields less real because it is caused by technology, unlike the mundumugus of East Africa? The training of his replacement, a young boy who was the quickest to understand the significance of Koriba’s parables, is fouled because the boy just can’t get past this fact that Koriba ignores facts in favour of cultural truth. Am I crazy for being sympathetic to Koriba’s definition despite my knowledge that he is in some sense a fraud? I really don’t know. The thing that stuck with me the most, the truest thing I came away with was the idea that convenience is a subtle kind of a trap. You can’t have a car without fuel. You can’t have fuel without fueling stations. You can’t have fueling stations without cracking stations. Without drilling rigs and tools to repair them the cracking stations would be pointless. Without the factories to manufacture the machines to make the rigs to fill the stations to supply the fueling stations to fill the cars you can’t have cars. The question then becomes, is the trap worth the cost? Of that, I am not at all sure.

I am saddened that Blackstone has had to omit the Author’s Afterword in which Resnick explains some of the sources of his ideas. Looking at it though, I can see how it would have been difficult to render to audio very compellingly. It is largely composed of original publication notations for the individual stories and lists of awards that each story was nominated for and won. An insert card, were that possible, might have done the trick. Thankfully as is typical with their growing library of Science Fiction audiobooks – the narration here is absolutely top notch. Paul Garcia’s voicing is magnificent, encapsulating and charismatic. His Koriba is a basso rumble that embodies wisdom and surety of a man who knows much. His young men and women are youthful, lively. No accents are used in the production, but we can clearly distinguish between the cultural mindsets by the intonation and stresses. His Masai hunter doesn’t sound Kikuyu. But perhaps most impressive of all is what Garcia does with the stories within the stories. Koriba’s reciting of fables designed to instruct the children in what it means to be Kikuyu are recursive gems of wisdom. In these recitations Garcia is required to narrate a narration and in so doing he will adeptly remind the listener that it is Koriba who is telling these tales, and not Resnick, and also not the characters of the stories themselves – though they have voices of their own. That same Koriba, whose life’s work is the resurrection and regaining of a people’s dignity independent of those who took it away.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Strawberry Automatic by T. Ray Gordon

October 2, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

Science Fiction Audiobook Review

Science Fiction Audiobook - Strawberry Automatic by T. Ray GordonStrawberry Automatic
By T. Ray Gordon, Full Cast Production by Richard Sellers
1 CD – 78 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Apex Audio Theatre
Published: 2005
Themes: / Science Fiction / Androids / Terraforming Mars /

The Automatics are androids, and trained fighting machines. When they fought for their own rights, they were, of course, declared non-personal non grata and the ones that could left Earth for other parts of the Solar System colonies. Strawberry Automatic is tall with flaming red hair, beautiful and deadly as they come. On Mars there is a company running the terraforming operation. Naturally someone wants to speed up the process using illegal nukes, and someone else wants to stop them.

I say “of course” and “naturally” because as I listened to this CD I had no trouble keeping slightly ahead of the story line. I kept thinking “This is a 1950s sci-fi story.” On his CD sales website, producer and narrator Richard Sellers says that T. Ray Gordon wrote 72 original manuscripts during the 1950s, which have never been published until now. So I was right. And as seems to be the cliché with pulp and radio writers, he was alcoholic and killed himself in 1961.

As a story Strawberry Automatic is a fairly good sci-fi adventure. As a script it relies too much on narration, some of which could have been written into dialogue or eliminated to keep the story moving faster. This might have made the script longer, though, and it appears they had decided to keep it to one CD. The production values are high, as the producer works as a voiceover artist and knows his trade. He also narrates the story. The acting is quite good, and it shows that Sellers knows his community of good performers. They just need someone to help them develop the script a bit before moving on.

The production values and the fact that it was not a story that had ever been produced before garnered it an Honorable Mention for the 10th Annual Mark Time Awards for Science Fiction Audio this year. Click here for more info.

The first of Gordon’s stories made for audio by Apex Audio Theatre, Inhumanity Quest, was also produced by Richard Sellers, and it shares many of the qualities mentioned here regarding the story, the production quality, and the performances.

I liked the production a little better the second time I heard it, as I could listen a bit more critically. It is well done. But I don’t know if I could listen to 72 of this kind of tale.

James Patrick Kelly, Hugo Award Winning Science …

November 1, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

James Patrick Kelly, Hugo Award Winning Science Fiction author and Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine columnist, has started to podcast his new novel entiled Burn!

“On a distant planet in the far future, the last remaining true humans have come together to form a Utopia based on the principles of Walden. The post-human population resists human encroachment by setting fire to their terraformed forests.”

You can download directly from the Free Reads Podcast page or subscribe FOR FREE by plugging this into iTunes:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/freereads

Way to go Jim!

Posted by Jesse Willis

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