Review of The Apocalypse of Bill Lizard by Roger Gregg

Science Fiction Audio Drama - The Apocalypse of Bill Lizard by Roger GreggThe Apocalypse of Bill Lizard
By Roger Gregg; Performed by a full cast
Two CD’s – 2 hours [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Crazy Dog Audio Theatre
Published: 2002
Themes: / Science Fiction / Audio Drama / Detective / Humor /

Bill Lizard, the maladjusted detective in the two-tone shoes and his partner Cyril the Pooka are hired by the Unspeakable to search the Unknowable to find the Unthinkable. Does the world end? What is after the After Life? Will we need shoes in heaven?

The Crazy Dog Audio Theatre brings you The Apocalypse of Bill Lizard, an audio drama in four half-hour episodes. Roger Gregg wrote, directed, and produced.

If you’re a fan of Firesign Theatre, then this is right up your alley. The script is wacky, full of sound effects, humorous dialogue, odd characters, and a mind-bending plot. The main characters are Bill Lizard, played by Roger Gregg, and Cyril the Pooka (a rabbit-shaped spirit reminiscent of Jimmy Stewart’s Harvey, only we hear him speak ourselves). Bill and Cyril are from the get-go sent on a quest for a mysterious scroll by a mysterious woman whose mysterious name Bill can’t pronounce.

In the liner notes, Gregg credits Thomas Merton’s Cables to the Ace, Chuang Tzu, Dante’s Inferno, Christopher Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus, T.S. Eliot’s The Hollow Men, Basho, Cicero’s The Dream of Scipio, and the Tibetan Bardo Thodal as inspirations for the comedic script. I can no more describe Bill Lizard as I can summarize all those works!

I can say that I enjoyed the energetic performances of the actors. The sound effects and overall production quality is excellent. Like I said earlier, this reminded me of some of Firesign Theatre’s recordings, which often leave me thinking, “What the heck was THAT all about?” Bill Lizard gave me the same feeling. It’s entertaining and funny in parts and pieces, smart, and chaotic.

The Crazy Dog Audio Theatre site offers free download of Episode 1 of Bill Lizard. Find it, along with the hilarious Zombies of Dr. Krell, here.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Noreascon: The 29th World Science Fiction Conventi…

Noreascon: The 29th World Science Fiction Convention Awards Banquet
Produced by William Desmond; Various Speakers
Two 33 1/3 RPM LPs – Approximately 90 minutes [UNABRIDGED EXCERPTS]
Publisher: Nesfa Inc.
Published: 1973 – Out Of Print
Themes: / Science Fiction / Awards / Fandom / Hugo Awards /

A set of two long-playing records of the Awards Banquet at the 1971 World Science Fiction Convention in Boston. The Toastmaster for the function was Robert Silverberg. In addition to the speeches by Guest of Honor Clifford D. Simak and Fan Guest of Honor Harry Warner, Jr., there is a eulogy for John Campbell given by Lester del Rey. Other speeches were given by the TAFF delegate (Mario Bosnyak) and the Bob Shaw Fan Fund winner (Bob Shaw). Awards were presented for First Fandom (received by Philinda Hammond for late father, John W. Campbell) and the P.A.T. Terry Award for Humour in SF. The Hugo Awards were presented by Isaac Asimov.

I had to find a working record player to play this set, something more difficult than I expected, but it was worth the wait. Recorded in real time, this is a collection of excerpts from the awards banquet, so there are some slow spots, a little dead air, but the energy and sheer voyeurism more than makes up for this. After all, listening to these LPs is for a science fiction fan what the Oscars are to a movie fan.

Toastmaster Robert Silverberg, who just this year (2004) has been named a “grand master,” sprinkles his 33 year old speeches with jokes, about Nixon, marijuana and other topical to 1971 themes – Silverberg also “roasts” many of his colleagues to his own and to the audience’s obvious delight. But Silverberg isn’t the only speaker. A somber and lamenting Lester Del Rey eulogized John W. Campbell and presented the first Fandom Award. Bob Shaw, specially imported to Boston just for the occasion made a brief speech full of warmth and humour and delightful Irish accent was a real treat! And Clifford D. Simak gave what sounded like a prepared speech – with some unfortunately insecure dentures. Simak’s unadulterated benevolence shone through – in his late 60’s by the time of this recording, he was the most eloquent speaker among all the honourees that night. Simak suggested in his speech that perhaps the “golden age”, wasn’t quite so golden as we all seem to remember and that the current ‘dry spell’ isn’t perhaps quite so dry. He extolled the virtues of the “new wave” and suggests that science fiction is stronger than it ever was, and that the expansion into the softer sciences of economics, ethics, sociology, etc. is actually a good thing. Simak’s conviction and good will brought genuine tears to my eyes and I wasn’t the only one moved. Simak’s speech was interrupted by spontaneous applause. After he’d concluded his speech he was again subject to a rousing and sustained round of applause and Silverberg said as Simak took his seat “He’s a good man, a pretty good writer too, we have a lot of good writers here tonight but he’s a good man”. We’ll miss you Cliff.

On Side 4 the serious handing out the “silver spaceships” began in earnest with Isaac Asimov as the dispenser. Asimov had even more fun with the microphone than did Silverberg, giving us a raunchy limerick and several references to himself as the worlds greatest science fiction author!

Larry Niven makes a brief vocalization too, after having been handed his Hugo for best novel (Ringworld), Niven said “I promised my wife I’d quit smoking right after this convention”. Thankfully Larry is still with us more than a third of a century later and no doubt we have his wife to thank for that.

Sound quality with this 1973 production is only fair, vinyl/needle friction combined with numerous microphone bumps, pops and hisses are only a minor annoyance, most speakers are easily heard, the audience laughs at all the jokes and everyone seems to be having a great time. The line drawing cover art is rudimentary and is taken from the program to the convention (click on the picture to see the expanded fold out cover), the inside of the 2 disc set is illustrated with black and white photos from Noreascon 1971. With only 300 of these record sets ever printed this is a mighty rare collectible, I’ll cherish mine until they invent that time machine these SF authors are always promising – then I can visit the convention myself!

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of A Green Thumb By Tobias S. Buckell

A Green Thumb
By Tobias S. Buckell; Read by Alexander Wilson
MP3 DOWNLOAD – 15 minutes, 21 seconds [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Telltale Weekly
Published: 2004
Themes: / Science Fiction / Alternate History / Genetic Engineering /

First published in Analog Science Fiction and Science Fact’s Jul/Aug 2002 issue, “A Green Thumb” posits an alternate world where consumer goods, like automobiles, are planted and nutured like trees instead of being manufactured. These plants grow directly into products, taking their final shape via genetic engineering. No chemicals or pollution, just sunshine and earth. Unfortunately, this short story is missing an interesting consequence or any sort of twist. Instead it relies on juvenile emotions for direction and energy. Like a sitcom without the humor, a family problem arises, a mild crisis ensues ending with a happy ever after resolution. Alexander Wilson’s reading was good with clear enunciation, though the characters voices could have used a little more distinctiveness. Available online at Telltale Weekly, “A Green Thumb” sells for only $.75 USD, merely the cost of a vended soda, making it a worthwhile listen.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Faster Than Light producer Joe Mahoney, informs us…

SFFaudio News

Faster Than Light producer Joe Mahoney, informs us that the third pilot for the proposed science fiction radio show, has not been greenlighted by the CBC Radio big wigs for summer broadcast. But its not all bad news, while this is the third pilot for the series, the CBC brass arent abandoning the concept. Joe informs us “they want to tweak it just a little bit more before committing to a series. I got a clear message that they believe in the project but they want to take the time to make certain that it’s done absolutely right. This can only be a good thing for the show.” Having heard both the first and second pilots so far myself, I can tell they’ve really got some great people working on the project and its just a matter of time. Thanks for the update Joe! Personally I’ve come to the conclusion that I should follow Roman Republic senator Cato the Elder’s example and end every post on SFFAudio with: “And Faster Than Light MUST live!” Maybe that’ll help.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of A Hero Of The Empire By Robert Silverberg

Science Fiction Audiobooks - A Hero of the Empire by Robert SilverbergA Hero Of The Empire
By Robert Silverberg; Read by George Guidall
Audio Download [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Random House Audible
Published: November 2000 – No Longer Available
ISBN: 0375417982
Themes: Science Fiction / Alternate History / Roman Empire / Islam /

A Hero Of The Empire is one of Robert Silverberg’s “Roma Eterna” stories, set in alternate history world where the Roman Empire never fell. A homosexual Roman nobleman is sent in punishment to a remote corner of the Empire – the Arabian city we know as Mecca. The time is 600 years after the reign of the Emperor Augustus – by this time the Empire has expanded to include the entire Arabian Peninsula. Written in the style of a letter to a dear friend, this novella is a fascinating examination of both Roman and Islamic history. George Guidall’s excellent reading infuses every word of this novella with his unique vocal magic. Audible’s recording is good, and even includes appropriate music, but the sound has been degraded by heavy compression – it sounds digitized. Unfortunately, and inexplicably, has pulled A Hero Of The Empire from its catalogue and it is no longer available by itself. This was one of the best science fiction audio downloads ever available. And its disappearance from makes me want to download and listen to all their titles immediately, for fear that they too will disappear!

NOTE: A Hero Of The Empire is no longer available singly, but is available as a portion of “Audible Exclusive Sci-Fi, Volume 1”.

The Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA), ann…

SFFaudio News

The Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA), announced the winners of the 2003 Nebula Awards for best science fiction or fantasy this weekend.

Best Novel of 2003

The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon

Best Novella of 2003

“Coraline ” by Neil Gaiman

Best Novelette of 2003

“The Empire of Ice Cream” by Jeffrey Ford

Best Short Story of 2003

“What I Didn’t See” by Karen Joy Fowler

Best ScriptThe Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Stephen Sinclair & Peter Jackson

The Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award was presented to renowned science fiction and fantasy writer Robert Silverberg for lifetime achievement in the field.

A very interesting thing to note is that both “The Empire of Ice Cream” and “What I Didn’t See” were published in the free on-line magazine, SCI FICTION. The times, they are a-changin.

On audio, there’s a very nice version of “Coraline”, read by Neil Gaiman, available from Harper Audio.

And what can be said about Robert Silverberg? A well-deserved award, to be sure. He’s had some stuff produced for audio, but I still consider him largely untapped. Check Blackstone Audio and Fantastic Audio (whose website has not been updated for a long while) for the most recently released titles.

Congratulations to the award winners and the nominees!

Posted by Scott D. Danielson