Review of The Red Panda Adventures – Season 5

July 1, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Reviews, SFFaudio essential 

SFFaudio Review

Superhero Audio Drama - The Red Panda Adventures - Season FiveThe Red Panda Adventures – Season 5
By Gregg Taylor; Performed by a full cast
12 MP3 Files via podcast – Approx. 6 Hours [AUDIO DRAMA]
Podcaster: Decoder Ring Theatre
Podcast: 2009 – 2010
Themes: / Fantasy / Superheroes / Mystery / Crime / Nazis / Adventure / Toronto / Magic / Dinosaurs / Telepathy / Amnesia / Airships / Time Travel / Caribbean / New York / Los Angeles / Espionage /

Of the many terrific episodes in this season’s dozen, I think Just Like Clockwork is my overall favourite. It’s an exemplary episode and it’s probably as close as Gregg Taylor will come to adapting a Philip K. Dick story. Events in any given Red Panda show can stand completely alone, but they’ll still often add to a developing story. Like in all the previous seasons villains rise, and fall, rise and then fall again. But sometimes the villains aren’t really villains, and sometimes the heroes are more frightening than we’d like them to be. By the final episode of Season 5 we know were heading towards some serious World War II stories. Here’s my description of each episode:

Episode 1 – “Nightshade” |MP3|
The newly married super-couple, August Fenwick (aka The Red Panda) and Kit Baxter Fenwick (aka The Flying Squirrel), are returning from their honeymoon in Europe. It was a working holiday, but they’re looking forward to a relaxing flight home aboard a Zeppelin. But there is a mysterious passenger aboard, and she has other plans.

Episode 2 – “Flight Of The Bumblebee” |MP3|
Doctor Darius, an earnest rooming-house tenant with a “felonious past,” is having trouble paying his rent. If he can only perfect his “royal jelly” formula … well, let’s just say that not all super-villains, it seems, are motivated by megalomania.

Episode 3 – “The Puzzle Master” |MP3|
A fiendish deathtrap, in the form of a labyrinth, faces any victim of The Puzzle Master. Can RP and FS, with the help of “Doc Rocket”, navigate the maze?

Episode 4 – “Just Like Clockwork” |MP3|
An amnesiac awakes in a dark alley. He meets a young woman, she wants to help, and he’s definitely in need of it. Meanwhile, the Red Panda is hunting for someone or something that poses a threat to someone or something somewhere in Toronto. It’s a mystery! It’s a love story! And it has all got to end either with a bang, a twist, or in tears!

Episode 5 – “Murder Wears A Mask” |MP3|
An old debt must be repaid with a trip to New York City. But unlike in Toronto, NYC has licensed superheroes, the mayor has given them badges and charged them with tracking down one of their own. But two crusaders from the Great White North don’t need no stinkin’ badges.

Episode 6 – “Terror Walks The Night” |MP3|
A cold spell, and a series of suicides isn’t likely to be a dastardly plot. Not during the 1930s depression. But when those suicides coincide with a series of disappearances then a certain something must be up. Right? Add in a snake cult and this looks like a job for a certain married couple, in thermal tights!

Episode 7 – “The Secret City” |MP3|
A dozen unsolved “society” kidnappings are followed up by an “impossible” $80,000 jewel robbery – the police are baffled but Red Panda (and wife) are on the case. Perhaps one jocular simian and his Oliver Twist-like crew are responsible?

Episode 8 – “A Dish Best Served Cold” |MP3|
A stakeout, some “ritualistic nonsense” and a gravelly voiced villain leading a covert cabal of criminal creeps may spell the extermination of both Panda and Squirrel. Can anyone stop The Red Panda Revenge Squad?

Episode 9 – “Song Of The Siren” |MP3|
A Caribbean vacation for Mr. and Mrs. August Fenwick is cut short when a Havana based pleasure boat, reported in distress and then missing, proves irresistible to this power couple. Could a mysterious high pitched cry, and an inconspicuous island deep in the epicenter be signs of a secret testing base? But testing for what? And for whom?

Episode 10 – “Eyes Of The Idol” |MP3|
Late one night in Los Angeles two security guards pass the time by talking. One has a strange tale to tell. It seems there was once an uninhabited island off the coast of India. On that island was an ancient ruined city. In that city was a certain eldritch idol. And that idol had two jewels for eyes, now called the “Eyes of Doom.” Now one of the guards has one. Two means doom.

Episode 11 – “Sins Of The Father” |MP3|
Is it only coincidence when Fenwick Industries is plagued by accidents? After all, accidents happen. But sometimes accidents aren’t actually accidents at all! And a sniper assassin is no kind of accident. Its all very hush hush, but what exactly does the suspicious Colonel Fitzroy know about it?

Episode 12 – “The Great Fall” |MP3|
Set in late August 1939, with a recently signed non-aggression pact between the Third Reich and the Soviet Union. One hero, and her husband, will fight one final holding action in a losing war, the Occult War. Their opponent is Professor Friedrich Von Schlitz and a division of SS scum.

Happy Canada Day everybody, go celebrate with some RED PANDA!

Here’s the podcast feed:

http://decoderring.libsyn.com/rss

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #063

June 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #063 – Scott and Jesse talk to Rick Jackson and William Coon about audiobook narration and recording.

Talked about on today’s show:
Eloquent Voice Audiobooks, Wonder Audio, LibriVox.org, WordPress, Elements of SEO (a wordpress theme), The Fabulous Clipjoint by Fredric Brown |READ OUR REVIEW|, The Wench Is Dead by Fredric Brown (available on audible.com), The Defenders and Other Stories by Philip K. Dick, Starman’s Quest and Other Stories by Robert Silverberg, OverDrive.com, Borders, Barnes & Noble, WHSmith, public libraries, Toronto, Anton Chekhov, “life is a passing parade”, Henry James, The Madonna Of The Future, William James, philosophy, Pro Tools, Starman’s Quest by Robert Silverberg, TellTaleWeekly.org, relativistic near-lightspeed travel, Majipoor.com, hard Science Fiction, The Happy Unfortunate, The Forever War by Joe Haldeman |READ OUR REVIEW|, The Defenders by Philip K. Dick, The Skull by Philip K. Dick, time travel, Behold The Man by Michael Moorcock, The Little Movement by Philip K. Dick (which is sadly not public domain) is the inspiration for Toy Story, The Guardian article Philip K. Dick Needed A Co-Author, The Time Traders by Andre Norton, A Princess Of Mars, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Bill C-32, copyfight, how to make the economy better=make copyright really clear, the DMCA, Forrest J. Ackerman, The Day The Earth Stood Still by Harry Bates, non compos mentis, A.E. van Vogt, have any EULAs or Terms Of Use contracts ever been enforced?

Posted by Jesse Willis

CBC Radio’s The Mystery Project: Midnight Cab by James W. Nichol

April 28, 2010 by · 13 Comments
Filed under: Audio Drama, Aural Noir, Online Audio 

Aural Noir: Online Audio

Midnight Cab

The 1990s was full of mystery in Canada. Weekday broadcasts on CBC Radio featured more than a dozen detectives in fully dramatized mysteries. This was a result of The Mystery Project. Perhaps the most listened to series under this banner was Midnight Cab, a half-hour mystery show about a 19 year old Toronto cab driver named Walker Devereaux. Here’s what Thrilling Detective has to say about Midnight Cab:

One of the best series airing as part of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s The Mystery Project is Midnight Cab, which was aired in three runs of 13 episodes, 9 episodes, and 13 episodes (making a total of 35 episodes for the series).

The show starred David Ferry as WALKER DEVEREAUX, a young man, rather gullible and naive, from Bear River (north of Lake Superior) who comes to Toronto in order to become an author and winds up driving a cab on the midnight shift. From the start, he keeps running into problems (such as that body that someone left in the trunk of his cab), and he solves the mysteries with the help of his girlfriend, wheelchair-bound Krista Papadopoulos (who dispatches cabs), Alfonso Piatelli (his boss), and Metro Police Inspector Wilfred Kiss (a friendly homicide cop). Each episode is fairly self-contained, but the series builds on its past episodes as well, so we see Walker’s developing relationship with Krista, his coming to terms with the big city, etc.

Here’s the entire run…

Season 1:

DH Audio - PAPERBACK AUDIO - Midnight Cab - The Mystery Of The Blue-Eyed ManSeason 1 – Episode 01 – The Mystery Of The Blue-Eyed Man
By James W. Nichol; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 28 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: November 14, 1992
Publisher: DH Audio / Paperback Audio
Published: March 1997
ISBN: 0886469295
Provider: Radio Mensa
On his way to pick up his first fare, Walker finds a body in the trunk of his car.

Season 1 – Episode 02 – The Mystery Of 22 Crier Drive
By James W. Nichol; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: November 21, 1992
Provider: Radio Mensa
Walker Devereaux, a 19-year-old aspiring writer, takes a job driving a cab. Lovable and intelligent by naïve, he stumbles on a succession of mysteries while working the graveyard shift. Unfortunately he is an amateur detective who can’t stop stumbling into trouble on Toronto’s dark side.

PAPERBACK AUDIO - The Mystery Of The Horse-Faced ManSeason 1 – Episode 03 – The Mystery Of The Horse-Faced Man
By James W. Nichol; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: November 28, 1992
Provider: Radio Mensa
Publisher: DH Audio / Paperback Audio
Published: December 1999
ISBN: 0886469856
A street freak gives Devereaux a present that stirs up Alphonso’s past. Where is he hiding out?

PAPERBACK AUDIO - The Mystery Of The Horse-Faced ManSeason 1 – Episode 04 – The Mystery Of The Motherless Child
By James W. Nichol; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: December 5, 1992
Provider: Radio Mensa
Publisher: DH Audio / Paperback Audio
Published: December 1999
ISBN: 0886469856
Julie Swenson comes to Toronto in search of her birth mother, but feels strange about her when they meet. Walker wants to help Julie, but it always seems to be too late.

Season 1 – Episode 05 – The Mystery Of The Falling Man
By James W. Nichol; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: December 12, 1992
Provider: Radio Mensa
Walker Devereaux, a 19-year-old aspiring writer, takes a job driving a cab. Lovable and intelligent but naïve, he stumbles on a succession of mysteries while working the graveyard shift. Unfortunately he is an amateur detective who can’t stop stumbling into trouble on Toronto’s dark side.

Season 1 – Episode 06 – The Mystery Of The Face In The Window
By James W. Nichol; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: December 19, 1992
Provider: Radio Mensa
A strange note appears in the glass donation ball of a mall Santa Claus. Cabbie Walker Devereaux, caught up by more than the spirit of the season, searches for the child who wrote the message and uncovers a much larger mystery.

Season 1 – Episode 07 – The Mystery Of The Child Holding A Dove
By James W. Nichol; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: December 26, 1992
Provider: Radio Mensa
A beaten woman stays over at Devereaux’s. She’s evasive because of an art theft and murder.

Season 1 – Episode 08 – The Mystery Of The Outdoorsman
By James W. Nichol; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: January 2, 1993
Provider: Radio Mensa
Back in Big River, a chance meeting leads to the truth about Devereaux’s father’s death.

Season 1 – Episode 09 – The Mystery Of The Screaming Woman
By James W. Nichol; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: January 9, 1993
Provider: Radio Mensa

Season 1 – Episode 10 – The Mystery Of The Drowning Man
By James W. Nichol; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: January 16, 1993
Provider: Radio Mensa

Season 1 – Episode 11 – The Mystery Of The Friendless Man
By James W. Nichol; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: January 23, 1993
Provider: Radio Mensa

Season 1 – Episode 12 – The Mystery Of The Vanishing Cab
By James W. Nichol; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: January 30, 1993
Provider: EnteringTheMindsEye.com

Season 1 – Episode 13 – The Mystery Of The Great Escape
By James W. Nichol; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: February 6, 1993
Provider: EnteringTheMindsEye.com

Season 2:

Season 2 – Episode 01 – The Mystery Of The Silver Rings
By James W. Nichol; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: December 8, 1993
Provider: EnteringTheMindsEye.com

DH Audio - PAPERBACK AUDIO - Midnight Cab - The Mystery Of The Great ManSeason 2 – Episode 02 – The Mystery Of The Great Man
By James W. Nichol; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: December 15, 1993
Publisher: DH Audio / Paperback Audio
Published: January 2000
ISBN: 0886469945
Provider: EnteringTheMindsEye.com

DH Audio - PAPERBACK AUDIO - Midnight Cab - The Mystery Of The Great ManSeason 2 – Episode 03 – The Mystery Of The Locked Room
By James W. Nichol; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: January 5, 1994
Publisher: DH Audio / Paperback Audio
Published: January 2000
ISBN: 0886469945
Provider: EnteringTheMindsEye.com

Season 2 – Episode 04 – The Mystery Of The Screaming Kettle
By James W. Nichol; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: January 12, 1994
Provider: EnteringTheMindsEye.com

Season 2 – Episode 05 – The Mystery Of The Lost Child
By James W. Nichol; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: January 19, 1994
Released: 2009
Provider: EnteringTheMindsEye.com
This time a passenger takes Devereaux for a ride – into murder. A brutal kidnapping went wrong years ago, so two screwups try again on a bone-chilling night in Toronto.

Season 2 – Episode 06 – The Mystery Of The Family Portrait
By James W. Nichol; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3|- Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: January 26, 1994
Provider: EnteringTheMindsEye.com

Season 2 – Episode 07 – The Mystery Of The Red-Headed Man
By James W. Nichol; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: February 2, 1994
Released: 2009
Provider: EnteringTheMindsEye.com
Devereaux’s best friend hooks up with a woman on the run. Can he uncover her dirty, deadly secrets fast enough to stop a killer?

DH Audio - PAPERBACK AUDIO - Midnight Cab - The Mystery Of The Perfect DaughterSeason 2 – Episode 08 – The Mystery Of The Perfect Daughter
By James W. Nichol; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: February 12, 1994
Publisher: DH Audio / Paperback Audio
Published: December 1999
ISBN: 155204629X
Provider: EnteringTheMindsEye.com

DH Audio - PAPERBACK AUDIO - Midnight Cab - The Mystery Of The Perfect DaughterSeason 2 – Episode 09 – The Mystery Of The Unsolicited Manuscript
By James W. Nichol; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: February 19, 1994
Publisher: DH Audio / Paperback Audio
Published: December 1999
ISBN: 155204629X
Provider: EnteringTheMindsEye.com

Season 3:

Season 3 – Episode 01 – The Mystery Of The White-Eyed Cat
By James W. Nichol; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: January 6, 1996
Publisher: DH Audio / Paperback Audio
Published: July 2000
ISBN: 1552046443
Provider: EnteringTheMindsEye.com

Season 3 – Episode 02 – The Mystery Of The Unfit Mother
By James W. Nichol; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: January 13, 1996
Provider: EnteringTheMindsEye.com

Season 3 – Episode 03 – The Mystery Of The Secret Letters
By James W. Nichol; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: January 20, 1996
Provider: EnteringTheMindsEye.com

Season 3 – Episode 04 – The Mystery Of The Long Lost Brother
By James W. Nichol; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: January 27, 1996
Provider: EnteringTheMindsEye.com

Season 3 – Episode 05 – The Mystery Of The Back Door Key
By James W. Nichol; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: February 3, 1996
Provider: EnteringTheMindsEye.com

Season 3 – Episode 06 – The Mystery Of The Hidden Man
By James W. Nichol; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: February 10, 1996
Provider: EnteringTheMindsEye.com

Season 3 – Episode 07 – The Mystery Of The Olde Tyme Piano
By James W. Nichol; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: February 17, 1996
Provider: EnteringTheMindsEye.com

Season 3 – Episode 08 – The Mystery Of The Angry Son
By James W. Nichol; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: February 24, 1996
Provider: EnteringTheMindsEye.com

Season 3 – Episode 09 – The Mystery Of The Desperate Man
By James W. Nichol; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: March 2, 1996
Provider: EnteringTheMindsEye.com

Season 3 – Episode 10 – The Mystery Of The Woman in Black
By James W. Nichol; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: March 9, 1996
Provider: EnteringTheMindsEye.com

Season 3 – Episode 11 – The Mystery Of The Wounded Poem
By James W. Nichol; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: March 16, 1996
Provider: EnteringTheMindsEye.com

Season 3 – Episode 12 – The Mystery Of The Laughing Clock
By James W. Nichol; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: March 23, 1996
Provider: EnteringTheMindsEye.com

Season 3 – Episode 13 – The Mystery Of The Soft-Hearted Man
By James W. Nichol; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: March 30, 1996
Provider: EnteringTheMindsEye.com

Midnight Cab, the novel:

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - Midnight Cab by James W. NicholMidnight Cab
By James W. Nichol; Read by Scott Brick
9 CDs, 8 Cassettes or 1 MP3-CD – Approx. 11.7 hrs [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: February 2005
ISBN: 9780786179923 (cd), 0786130121 (cassette), 0786182016 (mp3-cd)
In what serves as a sort of prequel to the series, Walker arrives in Toronto, intent on tracking down the parents who abandoned him. At the cab company where he works, Walker befriends the night dispatcher, Krista, a pretty, brave young woman. Wheelchair bound but resourceful, she helps him crack the code of his parents’ identity. But the quest to discover his mother’s whereabouts swiftly becomes perilous as Walker finds himself within the deadly grasp of Bobby, a young sociopath who has matured from early cruelty to murderous pleasure.

[via Radio Mensa and EnteringTheMindsEye.com]

Posted by Jesse Willis

P.S. CBC is still sitting on J. Michael Straczynski’s only radio drama series!

Review of FlashForward by Robert J. Sawyer

January 10, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audiobook - Flashforward by Robert J. SawyerFlashForward
By Robert J. Sawyer; Read by Mark Deakins
9 CDs – Approx. 10.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2009
ISBN: 1433252945
Themes: / Science Fiction / Hard SF / Time Travel / Disaster / Physics / Toronto / CERN / Murder / Mystery / Switzerland /
A scientific experiment begins, and as the button is pressed, the unexpected occurs: everyone in the world goes to sleep for a few moments while everyone’s consciousness is catapulted more than twenty years into the future. At the end of those moments, when the world reawakens, all human life is transformed by foreknowledge. Was that shocking revelation a peek at the real, unalterable future, or was it only one of many possible futures? What happens when a man tries to change it, like the doctor who has twenty years to try to prevent his own murder? How will the foreknowledge of a part of “then” affect the experience of the “now”?

This is the sixth Robert J. Sawyer novel that I have enjoyed. But, I didn’t get into it via the usual route. I started watching the TV series without explicitly knowing that it was an audiobook, that it was by Robert J. Sawyer, or that the novel even existed. But after seeing the TV series go into a mid-season hiatus I discovered the novel, and decided this was the perfect chance to read the story upon which it was based. Having seen the first half of the first season, and having read the novel, I recommend that you don’t watch any of the FlashForward TV series until you have read the audiobook. Both are really good and worthy, but different. The TV show is not spoiled by the audiobook, but seeing how it was adapted should add some value. The novel veers towards Hard SF, whilst the TV show is more of a Hollywood drama with SF leanings.

I personally found a couple of blemishes in the novel’s story that may only bother a few others. George Bernard Shaw and I agree that your particular country is not that interesting just because you were born there. I can understand mentioning TRIUMF and the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, they are useful to the plot and interesting. But the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC)? I ride it every day, and I don’t care. This and a few other Canada Canada Canada details are like being beaten with a Canadian hockey stick. Does the truly “True Great North” need to be bragged about? How un-Canadian. Another quibble, for me, was Sawyer use of John A. Wheeler’s Participatory Anthropic Principle, where things exist only when observed by a consciousness. I cannot fathom anybody believing this anthropocentric twaddle, the idea should be banished like the dark matter, astrology, and celestial spheres. Humans are neither that powerful nor that important.

Despite these quibbles FlashForward has an obliging rationalistic science slant. Consistency reigns. If you like to hear scientists with reasonable amounts of emotions talking, this book is for you. The conversations were what I expect from physicists. The visions of the future, caused by the flashforwards of the title, were very down to earth and believable. The audiobook also mixes in a modicum of mystery, via a future “who done it.” I predicted some of the events and was pleasantly surprised by others in this not-too-long a story. The ending, though plausible, did not unfurl as I had expected.

Narrator Mark Deakins gave a realistic delivery. His only error being when he twice mis-pronunced “Dyson” with the accent incorrectly on the last syllable, as in “Die-sown.” FlashForward is definitely worth a listen.

Review of The Red Panda Adventures – Season 4

SFFaudio Review

Superhero Audio Drama - The Red Panda Adventures - Season FourThe Red Panda Adventures – Season 4
By Gregg Taylor; Performed by a full cast
12 MP3 Files via podcast – Approx. 6 Hours [AUDIO DRAMA]
Podcaster: Decoder Ring Theatre
Podcast: September 2008 – May 2009
Themes: / Fantasy / Superheroes / Mystery / Crime / Adventure / Marriage / Toronto / Magic / South America / Dinosaurs /

“I’m not implying mystic threats, foreign powers and shadowy organizations aren’t important. But sometimes they do disconnect us from the street.”

After four years and 48 episodes Gregg Taylor’s writing is still amazingly fresh. It’s super-quotable too. As I listen I find myself writing down, here and there on scraps of paper, lines of dialogue. That’s terrific writing folks. Is it kind of sick that I even enjoy the commercials?

“I like all of those words.”

Speaking of words, in the opening lines of the new season Kit Baxter is no longer just the red panda’s “driver” now she’s his “fiance”! Another change is the introduction of a new sponsor (fast and easy weight loss dot com). Still around are the charming birthday wishes and other greetings from family members around the world who spend their dollars on keeping the Red Panda show going.

I’ve got a detailed episode by episode review below (minus any serious spoilers)…

Episode 1 – “The Third Wave
The season 3 finale of The Red Panda Adventures set up a Nazi scientist called Professor Von Schlitz to be the major villian for Season 4. So it wasn’t too shocking to have him take the first scene of episode one The Third Wave, of Season 4. As the show begins Schlitz and his new pilot are headed toward a secret lair in the jungles of South America. All is proceeding normally. Then SLAM! A twist I didn’t see coming. This opening shocked me! First there was the introduction of a new superhero, a man named “Captain Tom Sunlight” (played by Christopher Mott) – apparently an ally of The Red Panda’s. Second, I realized just how much Von Schlitz is a pastiche of two Raiders Of The Lost Ark villains (Belloq and Toht). An auspicious beginning. With this episode The Red Panda has now done something previously “unthinkable.” The rest of the episode deals with a frightening 1930s phenomena – with the title of the band of villains taken from a 1967 high school history class experiment.

Episode 2 – “The Mask of Death
This episode feels like the Red Panda Version of The Taking Of Pelham 123 but with zombies! A train station full of passengers is held for ransom. The arch-villain involved is another tenured teacher, Professor Zombie! playing junior panda member Harry is rather obviously female (and not male) – this is a problem I can’t see around. Finding child actors of talent are difficult, adults playing children ditto.

Episode 3 – “Murder In The Castle
The scenic Casa Loma is the setting for this season’s locked room mystery. A locked castle mystery actually as an unexpected murder that interrupts Kit’s romantic evening with her groom-to-be. This episode feels like a Nero Wolfe plot (minus the many confusing characters). Does old RP have a rooftop orchid garden?

Episode 4 – “The Gathering Storm
A full-scale dimensional breach imperils 1930s Toronto and only Red Panda and his trusty side-kick are up to the task of patching it back up. This episode clearly demonstrates the way magic is handled in the Red Panda universe. Scientists, especially ones named Chronopolis, can wrap their heads around the mystical arts and mystical objects – sometimes they just can’t control them.

Episode 5 – “Trial By Terror
Barton Meyer, an orderly at the Queen Street Lunatic Sanitarium, meets an old resident who claims to have been “born here.” The Electric Eel (performed by Scott Moyle) is home at last! With his incredible powers, and made up entirely of energy, he’ll team up with a few imprisoned residents/patients at the mad house (The Genie and The Jackrabbit). But this dastardly team-up doesn’t want to kill the Red Panda, they want to put him on trial in order to determine his sanity. The results? An electrifying episode.

Episode 6 – “The Boy In Blue
Constable Andy Parker, voiced by Brian Vaughan, best known from previous episodes of RPA for his crush on Flying Squirrel (like pretty much everyone else who listens to the show) takes center stage in this tale of police corruption. Is Parker working for The Syndicate or is there a more innocent explanation for him palling around with dirty cops? Which reminds me, all this Parker/Syndicate has got to be a nice little shout out to Richard Stark. I tell you that Greg Taylor packs a whole lot of goodness into each episode. Another thing to take note of in this episode is the new “Pappy” moniker Kit Baxter is floating for her husband-to-be.

Episode 7 – “The Golden Idol
A new superhero is prowling the streets of Toronto. He’s got super-strength, can fly and seems more than capable of replacing the Red Panda – the only question is: Why? Christopher Mott playing the ever excitable Mad Monkey makes an appearance – meaning he steals the show – in this case almost literally. Fun stuff!

Episode 8 – “I Dream Of Genies” Modern technology allows banks to secure their vaults better than ever. 17 stories into the sky they’re safe aren’t they? But can they stop a heat ray wielding villain on a flying carpet? Probably not. There’s a very cool audio montage in this ep. That’s something I don’t ever remember ever hearing before! Actor Brian Vaughan returns, reprising his super-villain role as The Genie from Seasons 2 and 3 (and 4).

Episode 9 – “Jungle Of Terror
Paying back a favour to their superhero buddy, Captain Tom Sunlight, Red Panda and Flying Squirrel fly into a South American jungle. There they discover a strange gateway, an old enemy, and some very large and very hungry fauna. This episode feels inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World. This is a cool away adventure. I hope RP and FS can do more of these next season.

Episode 10 – “The Crimson Death
Returning from South America with her fiance, the Flying Squirrel is all aflutter about her upcoming nuptials to her partner in crime-fighting. Luckily, there’s been a series of mysterious murders in Toronto while they’ve been away; solving them will be the perfect distraction from her wedding jitters. Her first stop: A visit to the Queen’s Street Lunatic Asylum. Whoever is responsible has some mean-ventriloquism chops, is invisible and wields fire. What an odd combination! This is the shortest (and probably weakest) episode of the fourth season – but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. There’s plenty of wonderful character development in between all that invisible, fire-throwing, voice-chucking menace.

Episode 11 – “Endgame
Tied up and hanging above a vat of acid Commander Varkin has the Red Panda and Flying Squirrel just where he wants them – now for the speechifyin’. Varkin (voiced by Gregory Z. Cooke) is a Blowfeld type villain – he fills us in on the season spanning conspiracy – and unleashes a lot more than hot air. But that isn’t the dynamic couple’s only problem, it seems that a vat of acid and a world domination speech aren’t enough for Varkin as a dangerous virus and secret partner will keep Squirrel and Panda busy. The perfect penultimate play? Possibly!

Episode 12 – “Operation Cold Feet
Kit Baxter’s even more antsy with her impending wedding just days away. But what’s up with all the false Red Panda sightings? They don’t seem to bother the real Red Panda. But when a fake Flying Squirrel makes a newspaper appearance Big Red nearly chokes on his toast! In this episode we finally learn the true identity of the Red Panda! For the previous 47 episodes Gregg Taylor has managed to side-step revealing our hero’s real name. Even characters who should have known the name of the man “who wears the mask of the Red Panda” have carefully not spoken it up to this point. He’s been called “Pappy” and “Puddin” by Kit Baxter, “my dear boy” by his fellow wealthy peers Toronto, really everything but “hey you.” It’s a name that’ll be remembered with the likes of Lamont Cranston and Bruce Wayne.

Happy Canada Day everybody, go celebrate with some RED PANDA!

Here’s the podcast feed:

http://decoderring.libsyn.com/rss

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #020

January 12, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #020 – Today Jesse and Scott talk with James Powell, a terrific Mystery, Science Fiction, Fantasy and Crime writer. He was first published in April 1966 and has approximately 140 published short stories in such magazines as Playboy and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. But most of his tales, including his most famous have been published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine! His tales are relentlessly logical, often hilarious, and swift. He is an absolute master of the short story. Powell is what’s known in the business as a “Pussycat writer” which means he doesn’t put sex and violence on the page, it all happens off-stage. Look for his latest tale, Clowntown Pajamas in the February 2009 issue of EQMM.

Talked about on today’s show:
A Cozy For The Jack-O-Lanterns, A Dirge For Clowntown, Clowntown Pajamas, Monaco, France, Crippen & Landru, The Friends Of Hector Jouvet |READ IT|, Peter Sellers, A Murder Coming, the review in which I first mention A Dirge For Clowntown rules for what Powell calls “Elf Economics”, The Theft Of The Valuable Bird, Midnight Pumpkins (Cinderella as Hard Fantasy), Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock style stories, Clowntown Pajamas, the hidden but clear rules of clown and mine behavior, Toronto, 1940s, QUESTION: Who does James Powell read? ANSWER: Charles Dickens, Jorge Luis Borges, J.R.R. Tolkien, and lately Michael Swanwick‘s The Edge Of The World, as wells as A Passage To India, E.M. Forster, Bouchercon, Frederic Dannay, Santa’s Way, The Tamerlane Crutch (a takeoff on the Maltese Falcon and A Christmas Carol), Lawrence Block, Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine, The Quest For Creeping Charlie, 1950s, George Orwell, Winter Hiatus, Iced: The New Noir Anthology of Cold, Hard Fiction edited by Peter Sellers, The Dawn Of Captain Sunset (a superhero champion of the elderly), round robin style short stories, The Best Fantasy Stories Of The Year: 1989 edited by Orson Scott Card and Martin H. Greenberg (ISBN: 1556561431), the difficulty of writing a Science Fiction Mystery story, John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, of A Dirge For Clowntown Scott says: “[it is] one of the finest mysteries I’ve ever read set in a different world,” Dercum Audio, Durkin Hayes, The Book Of Lies, Brad Meltzer, A Murder Coming edited by Peter Sellers (ISBN: 0886466377), calling all publishers: COLLECT JAMES POWELL!

Posted by Jesse Willis

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