Review of The Naked Sun by Isaac Asimov

SFFaudio Review

The Naked Sun by Isaac AsimovThe Naked Sun
By Isaac Asimov; Read by William Dufris
7 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – 8 Hours 30 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Media
Published: 2007
ISBN: 140010422X (CDs), 1400154227 (MP3-CD)
Themes: / Science Fiction / Mystery / Robots / Artificial Intelligence / Sociology / Alien World

On the beautiful Outer World planet of Solaria, a handful of human colonists lead a hermit-like existence, their every need attended to by their faithful robot servants. To this strange and provocative planet comes Detective Elijah Baley, sent from the streets of New York with his positronic partner, the robot R. Daneel Olivaw, to solve an incredible murder that has rocked Solaria to its foundations.

[disclaimer- As an audiobook publisher (, I have a working relationship with the narrator, William Dufris. I have no other professional associations with this title. Although I’ve kept the paragraph about the narration on this title brief, reader’s may question the objectiveness of the review in such cases. On the other hand, just because I have an association with an author or narrator doesn’t negate my reason or enthusiasm for that artist.]

The Naked Sun is a sequel to The Caves of Steel. It can be read or listened to without first acquainting yourself the first title, but it’s recommended that they be read in order…(The Caves of Steel was also designated an SFFaudio Essential by a different reviewer).

Like the first book, the main character is Earthman detective Elijah Baley. And he is reunited with robot and assistant Daneel Olivaw. He is sent to Solaria, which is hostile to Earth, to investigate a murder. Asimov takes the setting of The Caves of Steel and flips is on it’s head. In that first book the setting was of a vastly overpopulated Earth living in the confines of gigantic city/buildings. The mere thought of being outside is frightening to Earth’s inhabitants.

In The Naked Sun, Elijah Bailey, is sent to the planet Solaria to investigate a murder. Solaria’s inhabitants live on vast estates alone or with their spouses. They communicate with one another via holographic telepresence. They call this “viewing” versus “seeing.” “Seeing” is when they are in one another’s physical presence. They have a natural aversion to “seeing” and consider it a social taboo. This has additional relevance to our own society, or should I say to our social media networked world. Socially, we have moved closer to the virtual aspects of a world like Solaria than the world of 1956 when the novel was first published in Astounding Stories.

Asimov’s writing style is very clean, sparse and not very stylistic in a literary way. He’s fond of moving the story along with one-on-one dialogue. This is not untypical of the mystery genre and serves the Robot Novels very well. One of William Dufris’ strengths is handling dialogue. And he’s perfect for these novels. His voice characterization are distinctive, and he’s got a gift for pacing a conversation.

The murder mystery is very satisfying and there’s a much larger implication between the future of Earth and the Spacers giving the novel a larger feel than just a murder mystery with a SF setting. I find The Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun to be the best of Asimov’s novels and should be on every SF enthusiast’s list of must listens.

There is another sequel with Elijah Baley and Daneel Olivaw called The Robots of Dawn. This title was written much later in Asimov’s career and is also published by Tantor with William Dufris as narrator.

Posted by The Time Traveler of the Time Traveler Show

Free Audio novel – Communion of Dreams by James Downey

SFFaudio Online Audio

Communion of DreamsCommunion of Dream
By James Downey; Read by Scot Wilcox
19 Chapters as multiple MP3s- 15.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]

Communion of Dreams is an “alternative future history” set in 2052 where the human race is still struggling to recover from a massive pandemic flu some 40 years previously.  Much of the population is infertile.  National borders and alliances have shifted.  Regional nuclear wars have prompted some countries to turn to establishing settlements in space, and there’s a major effort to detect Earth-like planets in nearby star systems for future colonization.  Fringe eco-religious groups threaten to thwart the further advancement of science and technology, and resist any effort to spread humanity to the stars.

When an independent prospector on Titan discovers an alien artifact, assumptions based on the lack of evidence of extra-terrestrial intelligence are called into question.  Knowing that news of such a discovery could prompt chaos on Earth, a small team is sent to investigate and hopefully manage the situation.  What they find is that there’s more to human history, and human abilities, than any of them ever imagined.  And that they will need all those insights, and all those abilities, to face the greatest threat yet to human survival.

James Downey has a text version as well an audio version of his novel, Communion of Dreams.  The chapters are divided up into multiple MP3 so it may take some time to get it downloaded.  He makes the very common mistake of calling it a podcast on his download page; when in fact, it is just a page with links to the indiviual files.  An RSS feed would be nice for ease of downloading.  The reader is Scot Wilcox that has his own production company at OwnMade AudioBooks.

Time Traveler reads for Scatterpod: Dark

SFFaudio Online Audio

{Podcast / Scatterpod}

Michael Bekemeyer of Scatterpod has started a new themed series for the show called Scatterpod: Dark.  As you can imagine these tales concentrate on the darker side of human nature.  Some of the shows are non-fantasy horror stories, but they often have a fantasy element.

The third and most recent installation features a Science Fiction story called Ice Planet written by Michael.  The story is read by none other than myself, The Time Traveler.  Although I host my own show, but with the exception of one short flash fiction, this is my first tour of duty as a narrator.  When Michael sent me the story, I couldn’t refuse.  It was reminiscent of the kind of stories that appeared in the pulp magazines like Planet Stories (with some added expletives).

You can download the episode here
You can subscribe to the Scatterpod by pasting this line in your favorite podcatching device:


New Releases – The Green Millennium by Fritz Leiber

New Releases

The Green Millennium by Fritz LeiberThe Green Millennium
By Fritz Leiber; Read by William Coon
6.5 hrs. – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Wonder Audio
Availiable at Audible and iTunes

Give a free listen to the first chapter.

From the Hugo and Nebula Grandmaster author, Fritz Leiber.

Phil Gish has always felt like a luck-forsaken little guy who never got a break. But he awakes one morning to overwhelming optimism and hope. The thing that brings him joy is the sudden appearance of a green cat that has jumped through the window of his tiny bachelor apartment. He decides to adopt the cat and names it Lucky. But Lucky has other plans, and the cat disappears from Phil’s place as quickly as it jumped in.

Phil’s journey to retrieve Lucky takes him directly into the paths of some of the most eccentric characters to ever populate a novel, from a female masked wrestler to a psychoanalyst on the take and his seemingly psychotic daughter, Mitzie.

Poor Phil’s problems are only beginning. He starts to have special feelings for Mitzie, and the green cat becomes a sought-after prize by the mob and the government.

An offbeat story written as if someone had dropped a Marx Brothers movie into a Philip K. Dick novel.

Recent Arrivals – Dick, Heinlein, Card, Bujold, Robinson

Science Fiction Audiobook Recent Arrivals

We’ve got five new arrivals from Blackstone with the top names in the business–again!

dr_bloodmoney150.jpgDr. Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along After the Bomb
By Philip K. Dick; Read by Tom Weiner
7 CD, 8.5 hrs – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2008
ISBN: 9781433245503

Philip Dick’s post-nuclear-holocaust masterpiece presents a mesmerizing vision of a world transformed, where technology has reverted back to the nineteenth century, animals have developed speech and language, and humans must deal with both physical mutations and the psychological repercussions of the disaster they have caused. The book is filled with a host of Dick’s most memorable characters: Hoppy Harrington, a deformed mutant with telekinetic powers; Walt Dangerfield, a selfless disc jockey stranded in a satellite circling the globe; Dr. Bluthgeld, the megalomaniac physicist largely responsible for the decimated state of the world; and Stuart McConchie and Bonnie Keller, two unremarkable people bent the survival of goodness in a world devastated by evil. Epic and alluring, Dr. Bloodmoney brilliantly depicts Dick’s undying hope in humanity.

SF audiobook - Memory of Earth by Orson Scott CardThe Memory of Earth; Homecoming Vol. 1
By Orson Scott Card; Read by Stefan Rudnicki
9 CD, 10.5 hrs – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2008
ISBN: 9781433218705

High above the planet Harmony, the Oversoul watches. Its task, programmed so many millennia ago, is to guard the human settlement on this planet, to protect this fragile remnant of Earth from all threats. To protect them, most of all, from themselves.The Oversoul has done its job well. There is no war on Harmony. There are no weapons of mass destruction. There is no technology that could lead to weapons of war. By control of the data banks, and subtle interference in the very thoughts of the people, the artificial intelligence has fulfilled its mission.But now there is a problem. In orbit, the Oversoul realizes that it has lost access to some of its memory banks, and some of its power systems are failing. And on the planet, men are beginning to think about power, wealth, and conquest.

SF Audiobook - Stardance by Spider and Jeanne RobinsonStardance
By Spider & Jeanne Robinson: Read by Spider Robinson
7 CD, 8 hrs – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2008
ISBN: 9781433244827

Shara Drummond was a gifted dancer and a brilliant choreographer, but she could not pursue her dream of dancing on Earth. So she went to space, creating a new art form in three dimensions. And when the aliens arrived, there was only one way to prove that the human race deserved not just to survive, but to reach the stars. The only hope was Shara, with her stardance.

The Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Stardance series pioneered the concept of zero gravity dance, which even sparked the interest of NASA and shortlisted co-author Jeanne Robinson for a seat on a space shuttle to become the first actual freefall dancer in space. Though the Challenger explosion cancelled that dream, now Jeanne is being given a second chance to choreograph dance in space…on film. See Stardance Home Page for more.

SF audiobook - Friday by Robert A. HeinleinFriday
By Robert A. Heinlein; Read by Hillary Huber
11 CDs – Approx. 14 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2008
ISBN: 9781433246502
Engineered from the finest genes and trained to be a secret courier in a future world, Friday operates over a near-future Earth, where chaos reigns. North America has become Balkanized into dozens of independent states, sharing only a bizarrely vulgarized culture. Now, Friday finds herself on shuttlecock assignment at the seemingly whimsical behest of her secret employer, known to her only as “Boss”. Traveling from one to another of the new states of America’s disunion, she is confronted with a series of professional as well as personal crises that put her to the test.

SF audiobook - Passage: The Sharing Knife part 3 by Lois McMaster Bujould TNThe Sharing Knife, Passage, Vol. 3
By Lois McMaster Bujould; Read by Bernadette Dunne
12 CD, 15 hrs – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2008
ISBN: 9781433234910

Filled with magic, heroism, and all-too-human characters, Bujold’s Sharing Knife saga is both a gripping adventure and a poignant romance. In this third volume, Fawn, the young farm girl, and Dag, the seasoned soldier-sorcerer, set off to find fresh solutions to the perilous split between their peoples and encounter new hazards both human and uncanny.

The farmers and riverfolk have long distrusted the power of the mysterious and aloof Lakewalkers, even though they depend on them for protection from the evil malices. The proud Lakewalkers, meanwhile, have exiled Dag after learning of his marriage to Fawn, the first outsider to be bound to a Lakewalker in their magical way. But as Dag’s natural Lakewalker ability to manipulate “ground energy” begins to develop in dangerous directions, he and Fawn realize that big changes are ahead.

New Release – A Sheckley Trilogy

New Releases

A new release from my favorite Audiobook publisher Wonder Audio.  Okay, you got me.  I’m the publisher, so of course it’s my favorite.  But did you know we don’t review Wonder Audio titles at  Conflict of interest and all that, since I’m an editor here.  But you know if I did review one, it would really rock ;)

A Sheckley TrilogyA Sheckley Trilogy: Three Classic Tales of Science Fiction
By Robert Sheckley; Read by Mark Douglas Nelson
2 hrs. – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Wonder Audio
Availiable at Audible and iTunes

Robert Sheckley, master of the science-fiction short-story form, created numerous tales of dark humor. He had an entertaining gift for looking at society with a warped mirror, enabling us to see ourselves in a clearer reflection.

Keep Your Shape” is from the perspective of an alien race with the unseemly ability to change shape. In “The Seventh Victim“, murder is legal and sanctioned by society, and the gunman’s victim is a beautiful woman. And when a spaceship filled with diverse alien life forms is stranded without a star drive, they only have one chance of getting home again. That chance is with a “Specialist” from Earth.

These three works were originally published in Galaxy and The Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy in 1953.