Good news everyone! BBC7, the current king of Sci…


Good news everyone! BBC7, the current king of Science Fiction and Fantasy radio broadcasting, will be implementing an “Audio On Demand” (AOD) service starting Monday, April 5, 2004. BBC7’s The 7th Dimension has a minimum of 30 minutes of Science Fiction and Fantasy content every day of the week. This means that if you live outside the UK you’ll be able to tune into programs at your convienience – each program will be available through the AOD service for five days following the scheduled broadcast. Keep checking with SFFAudio for specific program announcements and links.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Twilight Zone No. 1 – The Mighty Casey by Rod Serling

Science Fiction Audiobooks - The Twilight Zone No 1The Twilight Zone No. 1 – The Mighty Casey
By Rod Serling; Read by Fritz Weaver
1 cassette – 75 minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Harper Audio
Published: 1992 – Out Of Print
ISBN: 1559946598
Themes: / Fantasy / Baseball / Robots / Humor /

Submitted for your approval…

Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone is revived for audio in the form of unabridged short stories by Rod Serling. All the stories in this series were previously adapted for the original Twilight Zone television series. This is the first in a series of six single cassette adaptations read by stars of the original series. In this case, Fritz Weaver spins the tale of “The Mighty Casey”, an almost mythical player for that near-mythical sport of baseball. The Brooklyn Dodgers were down in the dumps until tryouts turned up a talented left hander with a pitch like nobody’s business. Casey, the pitcher “with an exceptional left hand”, inspires the tired old players to new glory. They become the team to beat. Everything was swell until Casey gets beaned by a ball. A doctor is summoned and pronounces that Casey is alright, but then the doctor has trouble finding a pulse. It’s soon discovered that Casey is actually a robot and as such does not have a heart!

When thinking of baseball, most people probably associate the name Casey with the Ernest Lawrence Thayer’s 1888 poem “Casey At The Bat”. It’s clear to me that Rod Serling tapped into it for inspiration. “The Mighty Casey” is a very funny story. The dialogue is humorous and the situation is funny too, but it also has a lot of pathos. The story is entertaining but also has that most important of Twilight Zone elements, a twist with a satisfying ending. Fritz Weaver has great fun playing the characters, especially Mouth McGarry, the comic manager of the Dodgers, a character full of deep anxiety and deeper ignorance. This is pretty light material for The Twilight Zone, which often deals with the darker elements of the Human condition. Presented like an actual episode of the television series, there’s the haunting Twilight Zone music and an introduction just like Serling used to make. I actually listened to the tale twice, and I enjoyed it even more the second time around. Overall its a very good start to the series.

Posted by Jesse Willis

CBC Radio Drama: Faster Than Light

Hugo and Nebula award winning author Robert J.Sawyer has just announced the completion of a third pilot for the proposed weekly radio science fiction radio show FASTER THAN LIGHT. Produced by Joe Mahoney and Fergus Heywood for CBC Radio One, the half-hour long program includes:

-An interview with Julie E. Czerneda, one of Canada’s best SF writers

-A mini documentary on aliens in movies

-A short essay by Robet J. Sawyer on “the other” in science fiction

-An original full-cast radio drama based on Richard Matheson’s 1950 short story “Born of Man And Woman”!

Sounds like a real winner. The word is that if the pilot is picked up there could be as many as ten episodes of Faster Than Light broadcast over the summer! We will keep you updated as more information is available, this is really terrific news!

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny

Fantasy Audiobooks - Nine Princes in Amber by Roger ZelaznyNine Princes in Amber
By Roger Zelazny; Read by the author
4 Cassettes – 6 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Sunset Productions
Published: 1998
ISBN: 759433069046
Themes: / Fantasy / Magic / Parallel Worlds / Immortality /

At the beginning of this book, Corwin, an immortal prince of Amber, wakes up in a hospital bed without his memory. He slowly figures things out – who he is, where he is, and most interesting, who’s on his side and who isn’t. As he goes through this process, so does the listener, discovering the world through Corwin’s eyes.

But Corwin is not just human. He’s a member of the royal family of Amber, which is the only true world there is. All other worlds in the universe, including the one in which you and I sit, are but shadows of Amber. One gets to Amber only if one remembers exactly what Amber looks like, and if one has the power to subtly change the environment until it matches the one true world.

The royal family of Amber is dysfunctional, to say the least. Corwin has many brothers, among them Eric, Random, Bleys, and Caine. They all want the throne, and some are willing to kill for it. As Corwin becomes more aware, he too faces that decision – how far is he willing to go to gain the throne himself?

Roger Zelazny narrates this unabridged novel. He has a deep voice that I’ve heard compared to Bogart’s – takes a little getting used to, but the result is personal and satisfying.

The novel is wonderful – vintage Zelazny. I was delighted when I first found this (and the other four Amber novels) on unabridged audio. It was published by Sunset Productions in both unabridged and abridged formats. The abridged version is “enhanced” with sound effects, and features changes to Zelazny’s voice to indicate that the narrator is in a library or underwater, etc… that version is an example of an audiobook that has been overwhelmed with sound effects at the cost of the material. I much prefer this unabridged version, not only because it’s unabridged, but also because it is Zelazny’s reading without distortion.

Americana Publishing now owns the rights to the Sunset Productions, and has re-released the Amber novels, unfortunately only in the abridged format.

Review of Have Spacesuit, Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein

Science Fiction Audiobooks - Have Spacesuit Will Travel by Robert A. HeinleinHave Spacesuit, Will Travel
By Robert A. Heinlein; Performed By A Full Cast
8 CDs – 8 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Published by Full Cast Audio
Published: 2003
ISBN: 1932076417
Themes: / Science Fiction / Young Adult / The Moon / Galactic Civilization /

One minute Kip Russell was walking about in his backyard, testing out an old space suit and dreaming about going to the Moon — and the next he was out cold, the captive of an insidious space pirate. The whole thing seemed like a bad dream until Kip discovered there were other prisoners on board, and they were all on their way to the Moon — and a fate worse than death!

When Kip Russell wins a runner’s up prize in a soap jingle contest, an intergalactic journey to decide the fate of humanity results. Kip goes from soda jerk to spacesuit winner to alien abductee. Along the way Kip is joined by a pint-sized genius named PeeWee and an empathetic alien known as “the Mother Thing” who together must overcome the alien invaders who want to colonize the Earth. A far-fetched Hard Science Fiction story chock full of pathos and fun! First published in 1958, Have Spacesuit, Will Travel was nominated for a Hugo Award and has steadily remained in print for over 45 years. Though originally marketed as a book for teenage boys, it has found legions of admirers in many other age groups since then. I personally know of a high school English teacher who still uses it to get his students interested in reading! And like most science fiction fans, Robert Heinlein’s juvenile novels hold a special place in my own pantheon of SF novels. They speak to the excitable youth in us like few other books do.

When I heard about this particular adaptation I was skeptical. It uses multiple actors, music, and sound effects – this all sounded more like a radio dramatization to me than a straight reading. I’ve been disappointed by many audio dramatizations, I’ve found they often try to “improve” the text and end up cutting it to shreds. I figure you don’t mess with perfection, its just asking for trouble. Well the folks at FULL CAST AUDIO have messed with perfection and come away like heroes! This is a faithful adaptation. The only differences between a straight unabridged reading and this production are a few attributives, the “he said” and “she saids” that are redundant with either a versatile single performer or a full cast of actors. The acting is uniformly excellent, the original music and special voice effects enhance their performance. In short, this production truly shines. But that’s not all. The attention to detail found in the audio production extends to the fit and finish of the packaging. The original cover art is really great, rivaling the superb Del Rey paperback cover art. The CD case too is remarkable… it’s a new design and I’d never seen anything like it before. It resembles a thick DVD style case, with the CDs stacked and held in place by two durable plastic clamps – a space saving and efficient design that also pleases the eye. This audiobook is pure unpasteurized goodness and I truly hope FULL CAST AUDIO does some more Heinlein juvenile novels just like it. Have FULL CAST AUDIO, will listen!

Review of Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

Science Fiction Audiobooks - Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo HopkinsonBrown Girl In The Ring
By Nalo Hopkinson; Read by Peter Jay Fernandez
6 Cassettes – 8 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books
Published: 2001
ISBN: 0788752286
Themes: / Fantasy / Science Fiction / Dystopia / Organ harvesting / Canada / Caribbean / Voodoo /

To uncover the future voices of science fiction, Time Warner Publishing sponsored a contest that attracted hundreds of submissions. Brown Girl In The Ring was the winning entry, announcing author Nalo Hopkinson to the world as a tremendous new talent. Brown Girl In The Ring is set in a future Toronto. An economic breakdown and a rising crime rate means the middle and upper classes have left and only the underclass remains there – a significant portion of which is of Carribean descent. Toronto’s citizens have been walled away from the rest of Canada, but now the upper classes need something from the untouchables within Toronto city limits – they need their orphans. If you think of the New York in the movie “Escape From New York”, move it a few miles North and East, you’ll get an idea of the general setting. This is a “what would the world be like if…” story, which makes it sort of SF, but there is also magic or more properly magics (both good and bad) that influence the character’s lives, and deaths too, and this is certainly not plausible in my buttoned down scientist’s hat worldview (scientists do wear hats right?). Which tends to make me think it must be fantasy, kind of like Star Wars with its “force” must be fantasy.

I think I’ve thought of a term to describe it too, you’ve heard of Cyberpunk and Steampunk right? Well maybe Brown Girl In The Ring is Voodoopunk? I wasn’t sure what I was getting into with this audiobook, it has a vocabulary and an outlook I’d never experienced in a novel before. But on the other hand it did have some things that I recognized. It has a story – a very strong story – that was told as if the author had told dozens like it before and she guided me through it with a sure hand. What’s even better is it has a strong finish. I was worried I wasn’t going to be satisfied with where the story was going, I was happily surprised. Nalo Hopkinson knew what she was doing. I didnt anticipate the dénouement, but it makes sense and is very satisfying even though it is subtle. Maybe it makes it even more satisfying because it is subtle.

As for the production, it’s a Recorded Books audiobook so of course every word of the novel’s text is present. A very good thing too! It would have been a mistake to abridge a story as complex as this one. The cover art is perfect, I think it even surpasses the original paperback artwork!

Not being from the Caribbean myself I thought Peter Jay Fernandez did a great job with the accents and voices. I have been informed however that Fernadez is definitely mis-reading some of the phrases, so badly in some cases that he accidently changes their meaning. It didn’t detract from the experience for me, but if you are at all familiar with Carribean pronounciation and accents it may make it somewhat distracting.