New Releases – The Retrieval Artist Novels by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

New Releases

Science Fiction - The Retrieval Artist Novels by Kristine Kathryn RuschI’m thrilled to let you know about these novels by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, which have not been getting nearly enough attention on audio or otherwise. These books are part of Rusch’s wonderful Retrieval Artist series, and has exclusively published 5 of 6 them on unabridged audio (so far). The novels are science fiction police procedurals. A more accurate description: part Star Trek, part CSI, part The Big Sleep. In short, they are excellent, and I urge you to check them out.

If you’d like just a taste of what these novels are like, also offers Rusch’s original novella, called “The Retrieval Artist”, read by Stefan Rudnicki. Click here to get it.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Starship: Mutiny by Mike Resnick

SFFaudio Review

Starship: Mutiny, Book 1 by Mike ResnickStarship: Mutiny, Book 1
By Mike Resnick; Read by Jonathan Davis
Audible Download – 7 Hours 35 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audible Frontiers
Published: April 2008
Themes: / Science Fiction / Military SF / War / Galactic Civilization / Space Opera / Aliens /

The date is 1966 of the Galactic Era, almost three thousand years from now, and the Republic, created by the human race – but not yet dominated by it – finds itself in an all-out war. They stand against the Teroni Federation, an alliance of races that resent Man’s growing military and economic power. The main battles are taking place in the Spiral Arm and toward the Core. But far out on the Rim, the Theodore Roosevelt is one of three ships charged with protecting the Phoenix Cluster – a group of 73 inhabited worlds. Old, battered, some of its weapon systems outmoded, the Teddy R. is a ship that would have been decommissioned years ago if weren’t for the war. Its crew is composed of retreads, discipline cases, and a few raw recruits. But a new officer has been transferred to the Teddy R. His name is Wilson Cole, and he comes with a reputation for heroics and disobedience. Will the galaxy ever be the same?

There’s a light serialized feel to Starship: Mutiny, and I just don’t mean it’s the first in a series. There are distinct but successive adventures in this novel, rather than one over-arching plot. I like that a lot. I can’t say that Resnick’s broken any new ground, but what he does is bring an immediacy and intelligence to the Military SF sub-genre. Resnick is a master of dialogue and banter, his plots are fleshed out almost entirely by character interaction. Even scenes where Wilson Cole (the lead) is alone play out in an inner-dialogue. It makes for a quick compelling listen. The emotional roller coaster, so often present in Resnick short stories, is absent; but all the gravitas of his intellectual legacy informs the action. It’s as if SF’s own Tolstoy were writing Horatio Hornblower by way of The Odyssey.

Audible Frontiers, when possible, gets authors to introduce their work. Here it means we get insight into the motivation to write Starship: Mutiny from Mike Resnick himself. This is Resnick’s first Military SF book, and about that sub-genre he says: “I found a lot of it very same, filled with endless descriptions of military tactics and blood ‘n gut heroics. And that didn’t interest me at all. I’m much more interested in leadership than tactics. I’ve always prized intelligence more than physical force.” And that’s what is delivered. The narrator, Jonathan Davis, best known for his many Star Wars audibooks, is a familiar voice in this genre. Spaceship battles, alien accents and technojargon flow easily into the microphone. The whole novel took me less than 36 hours to consume, its highly addictive listening and I confess I was downloading the follow-up book before I’d even finished this one. For a novel so light in ideas, the heart of SF, it’s hard to call it “unmissable,” but on the other hand it masterfully achieves precisely what it intends to; it’s intelligent and entertaining Military SF – and that is still no small feat. Starship: Mutiny: Highly recommended!

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Calculating God by Robert J. Sawyer

SFFaudio Review

Audiobook - Calculating God by Robert J. SawyerCalculating God
By Robert J. Sawyer; Read by Jonathan Davis
Audible Download – 12 hours – [Unabridged]
Publisher: Audible Frontiers
Published: 2008
ISBN: None
Themes: / Science Fiction / Aliens / Paleontology / Religion / Philosophy / Space Travel /

One of the things I enjoy most about reviewing audiobooks is that I get to revisit novels that I’ve read and loved in the past. When these beloved novels are given great readers (not always the case), I can’t wait to get at them. Calculating God is one of those novels, and Jonathan Davis is an excellent narrator, so this audiobook leapt to the top of my TBR list the moment I realized it existed.

Jonathan Davis burst onto the science fiction scene with his stellar narration of Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash (SFFaudio review here). Since then, in the science fiction genre, he’s been almost exclusively reading Random House’s Star Wars abridgments. He reads them well, but I was thrilled to see him step away from that and narrate another of science fiction’s great novels. He is one of our very best narrators and this is a fine performance. I was rapt the entire time, and even near tears at one moment in the book.

When I read this novel for the first time, I was a bit taken aback. I am a Catholic and I’ve been reading science fiction all of my life. I have never had a problem reconciling science and religion and have been both perplexed and dismayed that Christianity is portrayed so often as being incompatible with science. It’s certainly true that for many Christian churches this conflict is real, but those churches are not Catholic churches, despite the most famous illustration of the conflict being the Catholic treatment of Galileo. I tell everyone who cares that Galileo was an aberration in the history of the Church (not the norm), but still, it was a colossal (though admitted) mistake. But for myself, science and religion are NOT in conflict. I’ve included a link at the bottom of this review to an interview of Brother Guy Consolmagno, a Vatican astronomer that aired on CBC Radio as an illustration of a Catholic’s relationship with science. Robert J. Sawyer is mentioned in the interview as well.

Back to the novel at hand: The reason I was taken aback when I first read this book was that it’s the first novel I’ve ever read in which the aliens believe in God. That in itself makes this book interesting enough to pick up. Imagine – an alien lands on your front doorstep and starts to question your doubts about the existence of God. Most science fiction portrays religion as something that is grown through or evolved past. By the time an alien species is mature enough for stellar travel, surely they have jettisoned religion? There’s no place for such a thing in a rational, scientific universe. Right?

Well, not according to this novel. Sawyer presents, in a very entertaining and interesting way, arguments for and against God’s existence. The main character (Tom Jericho) is a paleontologist who is dying of cancer. An alien (named Hollus) lands near the Royal Ontario Museum and strolls right in, asking to see the fossils. And off the novel goes. Jericho and Hollus spend much of the novel together looking at fossils and discussing various topics that range from the wide, including mass extinctions and evolution, to the intimately personal, like the approaching death of Jericho. I can think of no better way to present these topics than this lively novel, and I’ll recommend it to anyone interested in thinking about these things, no matter which side of the fence they are on.

Sawyer uses science fiction to create circumstances that make us readers think about important ideas in different ways and from different perspectives. That’s exactly the kind of science fiction I love to read, and why I’ll keep coming back to Robert J. Sawyer for more. I’m very happy to have had a chance to revisit this novel, and even happier to be able to award it our SFFaudio Essential designation. has published a few more of Robert J. Sawyer’s novels: The Neanderthal Trilogy is there (Hominids, Humans, and Hybrids). They also have his Nebula winning novel The Terminal Experiment, published by Recorded Books. We reviewed it back in 2003.

Robert J. Sawyer’s Calculating God page: LINK

A link to a CBC interview of Brother Guy Consolmagno, Vatican Astronomer: LINK

Posted by Scott D. Danielson