The SFFaudio Podcast #082

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #082 – Jesse talks with Gregg Margarite and Trent Reynolds about the BBC Audiobooks America and Hard Case Crime novel Memory by Donald E. Westlake.

Talked about on today’s show:
Iambik Audio, LibriVox, The Violent World Of Parker, Richard Stark’s Parker novels, The Ax by Donald E. Westlake, The Hook, crime writers who murder each other, the state of the U.S. economy, The Hot Rock, Charles Ardai, this isn’t a normal Donald Westlake book, 18 different dramatic situations, merciless forces, realistic brain damage, amnesia vs. Korsakoff’s syndrome, memory and personality, selfishness, ego, id, superego, cognitive psychotherapy: “flooding“, the philosophy amnesia, Catholicism, if you can’t remember your sins are you a sinner?, New York vs. Jeffords, the big city vs. the small town, acting vs. manual labour, lining-up the archetypes, the predatory agent, the first incarnation of Paul Cole vs. the second incarnation of Paul Cole, “and a lull”, scumbag vs. operator, the square of shiny metal, Westlake’s “Nephew books”, “I’m not a criminal but I have and uncle who is.”, the theme of the book: “people are selfish”, persistent unwanted thoughts, “he’s the surrogate son”, that “mumford” speech, they shrug into their coats and hug themselves, life as narrative, Momento, people would have said Momento is inspired by Memory, noir vs. hard-boiled, “What’s my name?!”, is the main character in a coma?, Nebraska, Iowa, “the mechanics of this novel are not fully understood until the end”, “life is noir hidden by fluffy clouds and puppies”, the Rara-Avis Yahoo! Group, Otto Penzler, there are no happy endings, Jim Thompson, James M. Cain, Double Indemnity, The Postman Always Rings Twice, the Glen Orbik cover art for Memory, blindsight, neurological memory problems vs. psychological memory problems, suppressed vs. repressed memories, Oedipus never repressed his memories, Hard Case Crime cover art, Witness To Myself by Seymour Shubin, iambik audio, “desire is the appendix of emotions”, that Westlake smoothness, sowing paranoia, the opposite of paranoia (is pronoia), social groupings, this book made me want to clean my apartment, Westlake’s intellectualism, The Cutie by Donald E. Westlake |READ OUR REVIEW|, Shop Class As Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into The Value Of Work by Matthew Crawford, the condemned man in the mirror, the painfully uncomfortable scenes of Memory, actors must let go to inhabit their characters, the audiobook version of Memory, kudos to Stephen R. Thorne’s narration, straight narration, Neil Gaiman as a narrator, bleak vs. hopeless, the department of narrative and physics, what do you see in the abyss?, “it’s not a who-dun-it, it’s an i-did-it?”

BBC AUDIOBOOKS AMERICA - Memory by Donald E. Westlake

Posted by Jesse Willis

JAMES BOND: You Only Live Twice by Ian Fleming

Aural Noir: Online Audio

“You only live twice:
Once when you’re born
And once when you look death in the face.”

-James Bond

You Only Live Twice (1964 Playboy Magazine)

If you’ve only seen the movie version of You Only Live Twice you’re in for a very pleasant surprise. Ian Fleming’s original novel is strikingly different from the movie of the same name. The movie, written at least in part by Roald Dahl, uses very little of the book – just a few of the characters and a couple of the settings. And while the movie’s story structure is very familiar, (having been later recycled in The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker and Tomorrow Never Dies) this stands in sharp contrast to the seemingly one-off nature of the novel (and the radio drama).

You Only Live Twice (1964 Playboy)

At the novel’s start Bond is despondent and listless over the death of his wife (recently murdered by Ernst Stavro Blofeld). Seeing Bond unable to do his job, M promotes him and gives him a “last-chance opportunity to shape up.” Bond is re-numbered as 7777, and assigned an “impossible mission”: to convince the head of Japan’s secret intelligence service, Tiger Tanaka, to betray the CIA and provide access to their top secret Soviet communique decryption machine. Much of the middle of the novel then takes the form of a kind of homosocial courtship between Bond and Tanaka. Eventually, Tanaka agrees to give up the data, but only in exchange for Bond’s agreeing to assassinate an eccentric resident alien named Dr. Guntram Shatterhand. Shatterhand, it seems, is operating a politically embarrassing “Garden of Death” where too many Japanese are going to commit suicide. Aided by former Japanese movie star Kissy Suzuki, Bond accepts the assignment on his personal authority, and with help in the form of make-up and training, attempts to penetrate Shatterhand’s coastal castle. Throw in a marriage, a pregnancy, lots of ninjas and a temporary case of amnesia and you’ve got one loaded story!!

You can get a great sense of of the novel from the exceedingly faithful radio dramatization available over on RadioArchive.cc!

Michael Jayston makes a fine Bond and Clive Merrison’s performance as Tanaka is solid, if not authentically Japanese.

BBC Radio 4You Only Live Twice
Based on the novel by Ian Fleming; Adapted by Michael Bakewell; Performed by a full cast
1 MP3 – Approx. 90 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broacaster: BBC Radio 4
Broadcast: 1990
Provider: RadioArchive.cc
Cast:
James Bond…..Michael Jayston
‘M’…..David King
Henderson…..Jame Laurenson
Tanaka…..Clive Merrison
Kissy…..Sayo Inaba
Trembling leaf…..Danielle Allen
Ando…..Bert Kwouk
Priest…..Danid Bannerman
Blofeld…..Ronald Herdman
Irma…..Maxine Audley
Molony…..Michale Turner
Kono…..Mark Straker
Tracey…..Emma Gregory
Mariko…..Tara Dominick

And, the unabridged audiobook (as narrated by Simon Vance) is available over at Blackstone Audio.

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - You Only Live Twice by Ian FlemingYou Only Live Twice
By Ian Fleming; Read by Simon Vance
6 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – Approx. 6.8 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2001
ISBN: 9781433261350 (cd), 9781433290398 (mp3-cd)
Bond, a shattered man after the death of his wife at the hands of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, has gone to pieces as an agent, endangering himself and his fellow operatives. M, unwilling to accept the loss of one of his best men, sends 007 to Japan for one last, near-impossible mission. But Japan proves to be Bond’s downfall, leading him to a mysterious residence known as the “Castle of Death,” where he encounters an old enemy revitalized. All the omens suggest that this is the end for the British agent and, for once, Bond himself seems unable to disagree…

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Red Panda Adventures – Season 5

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

LibriVox: The Planet Savers by Marion Zimmer Bradley

SFFaudio Online Audio

LibriVoxMarion Zimmer Bradley is best known as the author of The Mists Of Avalon, but her most long running series is set not in a fantasy middle ages of Earth, but rather on a far future Earth colony called Darkover. There are more than 40 books in the Darkover series. We have the very first one now available, thanks to LibriVox.org and the laudable narrator Mark Douglas Nelson!

The story’s pretty cool too, it’s told in first person by Dr. Jay Allison, an amnesiac. Allison shortly discovers that he is the only doctor on the planet qualified to solve the coming medical crisis, a “48-year fever” that’s a planetary pandemic that recurs at 48 year intervals. Making things even more difficult, we soon discover that his amnesia, is actually being caused by his multiple personality disorder (aka dissociative identity disorder).

The Planet Savers was first published as a “short novel” in a 1958 issue of Amazing Science Fiction magazine. In 1962 it became immortalized as one half of one of the famed Ace Doubles series (# F-153):

ACE DOUBLE (F-153) The Planet Savers by Marrion Zimmer Bradley

LIBRIVOX - The Planet Savers by Marion Zimmer BradleyThe Planet Savers
By Marion Zimmer Bradley; Read by Mark Douglas Nelson
4 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 3 Hours 11 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 28, 2010
The Terran colony on the planet Darkover faces imminent destruction by a plague of the deadly Trailmen’s Fever. The only hope is to develop a serum in time, but this requires the cooperation of the elusive native Trailmen, the brilliant parasitologist Dr. Jay Allison, and his split personality. First published in Amazing Science Fiction Stories, November 1958.

Podcast feed: http://librivox.org/rss/4246

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

Part 1 |MP3| Part 2 |MP3| Part 3 |MP3| Part 4 |MP3|

Here is a map of the planet Darkover (created for Wikipedia by David Speakman):

Map Of Darkover

[Thanks also to Betty M. and Diana Majlinger]

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of A Galaxy Trilogy Volume 2 – A Collection of Tales from the Early Days of Science Fiction

SFFaudio Review

A Galaxy Trilogy, Vol. 2A Galaxy Trilogy, Vol. 2 – A Collection of Tales from the Early Days of Science Fiction
By David Osborne, E.L. Arch, and Manly Banister; Read by Tom Weiner
11 CDs – Approx. 13 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2009
ISBN: 9781433291081
Themes: / Science Fiction / Aliens / First Contact / Politics / Cold War / Russia / Washington, D.C. / Colorado / Amnesia / Prophecy / Sociology / Iowa / Teleportation /

Back in the 1950s at the dawn of science fiction, writers were turning out wildly imaginative stories for the pulp magazines. Robert Silverberg, writing as David Osborne, estimates he wrote over a million words in one year. Here are three more exciting stories from those heady days from the pioneers of science fiction.

Discs 1 – 3: Aliens From Space by David Osborne (Robert Silverberg)

First published in 1958, under a pseudonym, this Robert Silverberg short novel is set in a fascinatingly futuristic 1989. It is in a period of relative peace on Earth since the recent collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. With this new détente in the offing only an outside influence could disrupt the path to global harmony. And that is exactly what happens when an alien spacecraft lands in an Iowa cornfield. It seems that these aliens have been watching Earth for millennia, and now we are on the cusp of ‘regular interplanetary travel’ these alien beings wish Earth to accept their hand/tentacle in friendship. This aid would be especially needed too as it seems there is another alien species out there in the galaxy – one which would likely destroy the Earth, and all humans, given half a chance. A team of diplomats and scientists from around the world is quickly assembled to negotiate a treaty and alliance. Among them is Professor Brewster, a prominent scientist of psychosociology. He thinks the aliens are hiding something. But could it just be their very alienness? He points out the advanced technology they offer comes with its own problem; receiving technology from an technologically advanced civilization doesn’t advance the recipient’s own culture – it merely makes the culture dependent upon the giver’s civilization. But is that a small cost compared with annihilation?

A friend of mine pointed out that Greg Bear’s 1987 novel The Forge Of God has a similar premise. There are many terrific ideas in the gloriously short novel. Aliens From Space is a kind of cold war apologue, a prisoner’s dilemma situation. Wrong action invites destruction or at the very least, great loss. In a way the Brewster character reminded me of Jared Diamond (of Guns, Germs And Steel fame). Diamond and Brewster, by asking interesting questions, find interesting answers.

Discs 4 – 7: The Man With Three Eyes by E.L. Arch (Rachel Cosgrove Payes)

The Man With Three Eyes is not a terrific Science Fiction novel. But, it is a fair meta-Science Fictional story. It works well as a quasi-period piece/alien invasion story/Agatha Christie-style mystery. It’s set in 1967 New York, more specifically in Greenwich Village. It’s protagonist, I won’t call him a hero, is an Irishman, Dan Gorman. He works as a Science Fiction magazine illustrator and lives in Mrs. Mumble’s boardinghouse. That’s the central location for the plot, as it’s a virtual United Nations of ethnically diverse characters. There’s an Afghan, a German, a Mohawk, a Welshman, an Eskimo (not an Inuit), an Ethiopian, and a refugee from Hong Kong. They all seem to get along pretty well until Dan accidentally places himself in the middle of an alien espionage ring operating out of a dead drop joke shop. There, he picks up a “third eye” and takes it to a party to impress a girl. It doesn’t work like he expects (but then I can’t imagine it’d work at all), and instead acts like the titular object in H.G. Wells’ short story The Crystal Egg (giving the user a vision of aliens on another planet). Dan then leaves the party and looses the eye in his own apartment. The next two thirds of the novel feature everyone hunting for it.

Sound confusing? It is, at least a bit. I found myself wondering how fast E.L. Arch had written The Man With Three Eyes Or if he had written it on a bet. But, like I said, I think it kind of works anyway. It’s not really a good Science Fiction story, but it ain’t a bad story and can probably tell you a lot about how Science Fiction stories were written in the mid 1960s New York. It felt quite a bit like what I imagine time travel to Greenwich Village in the 1960s would feel like.

Discs 8 – 11: Conquest Of Earth by Manly Banister

The aliens came to earth more than two ice ages ago. Now, under millenia of domination by these invaders, one Man amongst a small cadre of six Men with mental powers, elite combat training and a deep education in all things human, can manoeuver to throw off the chains that have sapped Earth of most of its precious resource, water.

Like the Bene Gesserit from Frank Herbert’s Dune, Manly Banister has created a far future quasi-planetary romance with and especially compelling depiction of what it would mean to be trained to detect and interpret every nuance of human physiology. In fact this whole short novel is like a pocket version of Dune – what with all the quasi-religious/scientific ideas, the overlords, the secret societies and the deserty planet-ness. Conquest of Earth may have more ideas per hour as any other audiobook I’ve listened to in the last decade. When Kor Danay (aka the Scarlet Sage) graduates from his training he begins a quick journey across Earth that leads to scenes of assassination, disguise, mind reading and later an unusual trip off-world with a quickly romanced wife named, get this, Soma! One reviewer called the plot “aimless” and “desultory” and I can see that. The whole story feels disjointed in a way that cannot really be understated. Kor has many abilities the set him apart from other people, and even his fellow “Men.” First up, he has the ability to speed up the molecules of his body so as to, from his perspective, stop time! This trope, by the way, was probably first proposed in the The New Accelerator by H.G. Wells, and later by Star Trek in an episode called “Wink Of An Eye.” One lengthy later sequence features another quasi-Star Trek fore-echo too, namely in “The Paradise Syndrome.“ Did I mention that Kor also has a ”Divisible Mind” which may be the key to defeating the enemy Trisz? He does!

In terms of the style of writing, well, there is a nice soliloquized-style explanation of why the Trisz should not be thought of as actually evil despite being insidious energy beings or a being who rule (or rules) the Earth with an iron fist. There is a lot of other zany stuff going on in this novel: teleportation, trickery, a prophetic computer, and a dose of amnesia (for good measure). I will admit Conquest Of Earth comes off as if it was plotted by a mish-mash of meth’d up aliens in order to win a stream of consciousness contest, but somehow it really didn’t seem to bother me. And, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear it had won.

David Osborne is an acknowledged pseudonym of Robert Silverberg. E.L. Arch was a pseudonym of Rachel Cosgrove Payes (being an anagram of her first name: “Rachel”). But it is entirely unclear to me who Manly Banister is or was. There is some discussion of the improbably named Manly Banister HERE, but no Wikipedia article currently exists on this person. Even the narrator name, Tom Weiner, is an alias.

Narrator Tom Weiner’s voice lends depth and presence to the three novels – he adds an appropriate alien lisp to some of the alien speakers, plays around with accents and delivers it all a gravitas and seriousness that doesnt mock this fun material. Listening to A Galaxy Trilogy Volume 2 felt very rewarding!

A minor issue with this collection includes the distinct lack of markings on the discs. 11 CDs are in the set, with three short novels, but none of them is marked with which novels are on which discs. On the other hand, all three novels begin at the beginning of a CD.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Prisoners Of Gravity – Amnesia / Total Recall: watch or listen to the show

SFFaudio Online Audio

As nobody other than my good friend Rachelle Shelkey has been doing much boosterism for our favorite television show I thought I’d give it another boost… Prisoners Of Gravity was absolutely the best interview theme show I’ve ever seen. The three videos below make up the bulk of one episode from the 5th (and final) season of PoG. The episode is titled “Amnesia / Total Recall“.
In the show Commander Rick, the host, talks to David Cronenberg, Walter Jon Williams, C.J. Cherryh, Harry Harrison, Pat Cadigan, Nancy Kress, Kim Antieau, Samuel R. Delany, Ray Bradbury, Megan Lindholm and Terry Pratchett about the use of AMNESIA and TOTAL RECALL as themes in Science Fiction.

Prisoners Of GravityPrisoners Of Gravity – “Amnesia / Total Recall”
1 |MP3| – Approx. 27 Minutes [AUDIO FROM VIDEO]
Broadcaster: TV Ontario
Broadcast: Wednesday December 15, 1993

“This week Commander Rick continues to explore the theme of memory, taking an in-depth look at amnesia in discussions with guests: film director and screenwriter David Cronenberg – who was the original choice to write and direct the movie Total Recall; and speculative fiction authors Walter Jon Williams (Voice Of The Whirlwind), C.J. Cherryh (Heavy Time), Harry Harrison (The Turing Option), Pat Cadigan (Fools), Nancy Kress (Brain Rose), Kim Antieau (“Another Country”) and Samuel R. Delany (Dhalgren). Commander Rick also looks at the idea of eidetic or photographic memory in discussions with guests: Ray Bradbury (The Illustrated Man), Megan Lindholm (Alien Earth) and Terry Pratchett (Small Gods).”


Part 1 of 3:

Part 2 of 3:

Part 3 of 3:

Posted by Jesse Willis