New Releases – Wonder Audio, Leiber and Weinbaum

SFFaudio Recent Arrivals

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The Night of the Long KnivesThe Night of the Long Knives
By Fritz Leiber; Read by Mark Douglas Nelson
3hr,  37 min.- [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Wonder Audio
Published: 2009

Available at Audible & iTunes

A Deathlander’s life is a rough one. Atomic radiation, murder and sex preoccupies the sparse inhabitants of what used to be a great portion of America’s West. Kill or be killed is the law of this sickened land. Multicolored radioactive dusts floats in the atmosphere of this nuclear desert.

When Ray Baker meets a woman on his sojourn, he doesn’t know if he wants to kill her or sleep with her. Ray doesn’t understand his urge to murder. But he feels it like all the other Deathlanders. Just as he knows the girl feels it. Laying down their arsenal of weapons will leave them both vulnerable. The cost of a moment of intimacy may lead to the last moments of their lives. And what to do when the act is over, and both their minds turn back to murder.

Parasite Planet: The Ham & Pat StoriesParasite Planet: The Ham & Pat Stories
By Stanley G. Weinbaum; Read by Mark Douglas Nelson
3hr, 47 min.- [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Wonder Audio
Published: 2009

Available at Audible & iTunes

The short and meteoric career of Stanley G. Weinbaum produced many instantly hailed classics. None had the breadth of wonder, and adventure with philosophic insight as the trilogy of stories that feature Ham Hammond and Patricia Burlingame.

Parasite Planet begins with Ham Hammond trekking across the surface of Venus. The environment is parasitic, filled with bizarre alien life forms like the lasso throwing Jack Ketch Trees and the doughpots, a mindless omnivorous ball of animate cells that devour all living things in their path. When Ham meets the contentious Patricia Burlingame, they have to march across Venus to safety. It’s not clear what is going to kill them first, Venus’s hostile environment or each other.

In The Lotus Eaters, Ham and Pat are on a special scientific expedition to the dark-side of Venus. They discover a strange warm-blooded plant. The most disconcerting thing about the plant is when it begins speaking English and waxing philosophically.

The Planet of Doubt brings the duo to Uranus on another special scientific expedition. The cloudy shrouded terrain strikes terror into the heart of Ham as tries to find the lost Pat who he hopes is still be alive!

Posted by The Time Traveler of the Time Traveler Show

Review of The Incredible Shrinking Man by Richard Matheson

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audiobooks - The Incredible Shrinking Man by Richard MathesonThe Incredible Shrinking Man
By Richard Matheson; Read by Yuri Rasovsky
1 MP3 disc, 7 CDs, 6 cassettes – 8 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2006
ISBN: 0786178515(MP3), 0786175761(CD), 0786137924 (cassettes)
Themes: / Science Fiction / Atomic Radiation / Illness / Transcendence / Miniaturization / Horror

Scott Carey is a man suffering from a freak accident during which he was exposed to radiation dust and pesticides. He begins to slowly shrink. He finds not only the physical challenges of getting smaller but the social as well. In fact it is in this social arena where must of the intensity of the book comes from.

Scott Carey has a good life with his beautiful wife, Lou. When he begins to shrink tension between him and his wife grows, and their relationship begins to change. Although we feel sympathy for Scott’s plight, we don’t necessarily like him. He’s one pissed-off little guy. Ultimately this is a story of impotence. Not just sexually but for all aspects of his life. He can no longer satisfy his wife sexually (even though he still has his sex drive). He cannot meet his family’s economic needs except by selling his story to tabloid-styled newspapers. And he has a daughter that he has to fear because she may crush him just by playing with him.

Yuri Rasovsky does a great job on the audiobook. In an early dialogue scene with Scott and his wife Lou, the character voices sounded very much the same. My first response was that Yuri didn’t differentiate between characters much. On second reflection, I realized this was intentional. Later in the book as Scott is shrinking, he begins to sound like a little boy when talking with his wife. This helps create the vulnerable and impotent stature of Scott, making him less of a man. It was no accident that Matheson used “Lou” as a nickname for Scott’s wife, Louise. It demeans Scott’s masculinity even more.

Richard Matheson is a wonderfully expressive author, drawing emotion out with every turn. Granted, they are mostly dark emotions.

Matheson also adapted this novel to a screenplay for the classic movie. I watched the movie right after finishing the audiobook to see how a master adapts his own work to screen. It’s an experience I strongly recommend. Some of the most powerful scenes in the book do not make it into the movie. There’s a gang of youths that beat Scott. There’s the drunken child molester that picks up Scott hitchhiking and mistakes him for a boy.

And there are scenes that work better in the movie than in the book. These are the action scenes when Scott is fighting cats and spiders. Those scenes in the book become tedious because they take so long to explain.

But the book surpasses the movie again with an ending that is more poignantly transcendent.