Professor Michael Saler, of UC Davis, suggested I check out his talk about “History and Imaginary Worlds” which he gave at a TEDx at UC Davis.
Saler’s talk reminded me of something Dave Barry said.
He said he wanted to get an Amtrak jersey made, like one of those football or hockey style oversized jerseys. He wanted to get an Amtrak logo emblazoned on the front of it, and have two little ones put onto the shoulders. He wanted to have “GUNN” stitched on to the back of it (David Gunn was the president of Amtrak at the time). He wanted to walk around in public wearing it, and quote statistics about how many miles of track Amtrak had laid down, and to tell everyone how many passengers it delivered in it’s 2003 “season.”
I guess he thought that a lot folks might think it strange if a grown man walked around wearing a costume of one of his heroes. He didn’t want any of those normal sports fans to think he was strange.
The SFFaudio Podcast #086 – Jesse talks to Ben Aaronovitch. Aaronovitch is an SFF author, a former Doctor Who scriptwriter, and the lead writer of the Blake’s 7 audio drama series.
Talked about on today’s show:
the original Doctor Who, how to break into TV (in the mid 1980s), Andrew Cartmel, the price of VCRs in 1985, Caroline Aulton, Remembrance Of The Daleks, big budget BBC, Geoffrey Palmer, do it again with 40% more fear, Ben Aaronovitch’s blog Temporarily Significant entitled: I shall eviscerate you, Daleks and An Unearthly Child, racism, The Hand Of Omega, two sets of Daleks, proto-U.N.I.T., Battlefield, what killed the original Doctor Who?, the BBC!, the fetishization of the writer, Russel T. Davies, Queer As Folk, “a Doctor Who shaped whole in the British psyche”, Jon Pertwee, KVOS-TV, the abortive FOX Doctor Who reboot, Doctor Who as an episode of The X-Files, Paul McGann, The New Adventures of Doctor Who:Transit by Ben Aaronovitch, Rivers Of London by Ben Aaronovitch (aka Midnight Riot), Moon Over Soho, Whispers Underground, Peter F. Hamilton, “extruded fantasy product”, Michael Moorcock, Charlaine Harris, Diana Gabaldon, Harry Potter meets The Sweeney (the British version of Kojak), The Dresden Files (is “Gandalf noir”), reviews of Rivers Of London (aka Midnight Riot), Midnight Riot on GoodReads.com, negative reviews are very helpful, The Steel Remains by Richard K. Morgan, Morgan’s screed against J.R.R. Tolkien, Joe Abercrombie and China Miéville are good because they are good not because they are grim, the Blake’s 7 audio dramas started on The Sci-Fi Channel UK, Andrew Sewell, Rebel, Traitor, Liberator is an SFFaudio Essential |READ OUR REVIEW|, “Star Trek: British or Robin Hood in space”, Terry Nation, Chris Boucher, Avon’s one liners, Firefly, Farscape, the Blake’s 7 prequel series, Cally: Blood & Earth and Flag & Flame |READ OUR REVIEW|, Alistair Lock, the quality of the actors on Blake’s 7, Colin Salmon, Michael Praed, B7 is real Science Fiction ideas in a space opera setting, the internet is a huge echo chamber, the effect of torrents on Blake’s 7, B7 is on Audible.com (and Audible.co.uk), Bernice Summerfield, Big Finish, Blake’s 7: The Early Years: Zen: Escape Velocity (Volume 2.1), Series 2 of Blake’s 7 is already written, the rebooting of Battlestar Galactica, the Pegasus episode of BSG, landing a Battlestar was badly though through, Ronald D. Moore‘s Cylons didn’t have a plan, Lost, J. Michael Straczynski, television is like life, Dexter, detective shows can run longer, The Mentalist, Law & Order, why Doctor Who need never die, the Pertwee years, Doctor Who as the “universal television format”, Frankenstien = The Brain Of Morbius, Greek myth = The Myth Makers, there’s no end-game in Doctor Who, writers are used as a crutch by British TV executives, the credit given to writers by UK television, USA TV vs. UK TV, the writer’s room is very attractive, the homogeneous end product, Castle is beautifully written fluff, the psychic episode of Castle was soul-deadening, HBO, True Blood, Downton Abbey is kind of like Upstairs Downstairs, the problems of USA and UK TV, DaVinci’s Inquest, Intelligence, Downton Abbey, Highlander, Seacouver, The 4400 lake (is Buntzen Lake), “Caprica city is decaying”.
WATCH OUT FOR THE FALSE ENDINGS (mostly attributable to Luke)
Talked about on today’s show:
Role playing game names, “Tom And His Friends” Dungeons And Dragons comedy (aka Farador), SFFaudio Challenge #2, Rebels Of The Red Planet by Charles L. Fontenay, Mars, martian rebels, Podiobooks.com, Cossmass Productions, Mark Douglas Nelson, Dan Simmons’ Hyperion, the least interesting vs. the least fitting, I’m Dreaming Of A Black Christmas by Lewis Black, Christmas = Fantasy?, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Suck It, Wonder Woman |READ OUR REVIEW|, Star Wars, what makes Star Wars Science Fiction is a sense-of-wonder?, Star Trek, METAtropolis: Cascadia, Star Trek The Next Generation narrators vs. Battlestar Galactica narrators, Wil Wheaton as a narrator, Dove Audio, Levar Burton as a narrator, liking Star Trek for all the wrong reasons, Theodore Sturgeon, Harlan Ellison, assimilation is a neat idea, “who the hell are the Borg?”, The Unincorporated Man by Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin |READ OUR REVIEW|, The Unincorporated War, “is there true Science Fiction to be found in sequels?”, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Peter F. Hamilton’s The Void Trilogy, Blackout by Connie Willis, The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis |READ OUR REVIEW|, Firewatch, dragging the story out, Whiteout by Connie Willis, World War II, Katherine Kellgren as a narrator, Jenny Sterlin as a narrator, Recorded Books, Brilliance Audio, Audible.com, Amazon.com, Earth Abides by George R. Stewart, Deep Six by Jack McDevitt, introductions to audiobooks, the introduction as an apology for the book, Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. |READ OUR REVIEW|, The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison, The Time Traders by Andre Norton, H.G. Wells, The First Men In The Moon, Around The Moon, Jules Verne, continuing characters rather than continuing series, Sherlock Holmes, Khyber Pass vs. Reichenbach Falls, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Valley Of Fear, The Hound Of The Baskervilles, Lois McMaster Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan series, does reading a series defeat the hope of being surprised? Priest Kings Of Gor by John Norman, A Game Of Thrones by George R.R. Martin |READ OUR REVIEW|, fun vs. funny, crime and adventure vs. ideas, A Princess Of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Bill The Galactic Hero, Slippery Jim DiGriz, The Stainless Steel Rat’s Revenge, This Immortal by Roger Zelazny, The Speed Of Dark by Elizabeth Moon, Books On Tape, Grover Gardner, Gregg has a grumbly voice, The Space Dog Podcast, The Science Fiction Oral History Association, Gordon Dickson, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Cordwainer Smith, Scott Westerfeld, Ben Bova, Luke’s next podcast project, NaNoWriMo, what podcast schedule should you have?, Robert Silverberg AUDIOBOOKS are coming from Wonder Audio, the old stuff vs. the new stuff, Jay Snyder as a narrator, a Science Fiction story that has little SF content, autism, Charly, Understand by Ted Chiang, Flowers For Algernon, interacting with the world, I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells, psychopathy, an unreliable first person narrator, young Dexter, Asperger syndrome, The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time by Mark Haddon, a detached (but reliable) narrator, the two audiobook versions of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson, the Baroque Cycle, Anathem, John Allen Nelson as a narrator, Phat Fiction, The Way Of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, The Towers Of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, walking around central park as a retired person as my new career, who listens to audiobooks?, working the unworked niche, they really like Gregg’s voice!, no RSS-feed = soooo sad, Sam This Is You by Murray Leinster, Black Amazon Of Mars by Leigh Brackett, The World That Couldn’t Be Clifford D. Simak, The Idiot by John Kendrick Bangs, The Hate Disease, Asteroid Of Fear, Industrial Revolution by Poul Anderson, A Horse’s Tale by Mark Twain, anthropomorphic fiction, A Dog’s Tale by Mark Twain, Gregg has bugles lying around, Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels, Thought You Were Dead by Terry Griggs, Iambik Audio‘s upcoming Science Fiction audiobooks, LibriVox, working with small press publishers, Extract From Captain Stormfield’s Visit To Heaven, Blackstone Audio, The Many Colored Land by Julian May, Bernadette Dunne as a narrator, time travel, The Pliocene Epoch, sequel and prequel fatigue, flooding the Mediterranean, Blake’s 7: Zen : Escape Veloctiy is a Science Fictiony audio drama series, Firesign Theatre? (he means Seeing Ear Theatre), The Moon Moth based on the story by Jack Vance, Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers, Mistborn, Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds, Lord Of Light by Roger Zelazny, Finch by Jeff Vandermere, Flood by Stephen Baxter, thematic exploration vs. bad writing, GoodReads.com, Eifelheim by Michael Flynn |READ OUR REVIEW|, Luke’s books should be audiobooks, The Fifth Annual SFFaudio Challenge, all the cool Science Fiction ideas in Luke’s books, Gregg Margarite is a secret author with a secret pseudonym, Eric Arthur Blair, the publishing industry headache is intolerable to many, good writers + savvy marketers = sales success?, Redbelt, David Mamet, drowning in an ocean full of crap, the Jesse Willis bump?, catering to the listeners (or readers) desires vs. publishers desires, Pogoplug, Out Of The Dark by David Weber, artificial robots vs. natural robots, What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly, art and techne, does evolution have goals?, the Cool Tools blog, eyes vs. I, natural selection, zero-point energy, the Cat in Red Dwarf was pulled to the fish dispensing vending machine, if you won’t give me eyes at least give me bilateral symmetry, goals vs. patterns or positions, starfish vs. Inuit, technology is a function of evolution, Luke re-writes The War Of The Worlds in under 20 minutes, red weed and green mist, stomach-less martians, “the final final part” and the musical version, flipping over the narrative is fun, Ender’s Game vs. Ender’s Shadow, what do the martians have against doors?, keeping the martian cannon canon, The Dragon With The Girl Tattoo by Adam Roberts.
Blake’s 7 – Cally: Blood & Earth / Flag & Flame (Vol. 1.4)
By Ben Aaronovitch and Marc Platt; Directed by Dominic Devine; Performed by a full cast
1 CD – Approx. 60 Minutes [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: B7 Productions
Published: August 24, 2009
Themes: / Science Fiction / Space Opera / Telepathy / Survival / Noir / War /
Blake’s 7 – Cally contains two plays on one CD. I am reviewing them individually and in the order they appear on the disc.
Blood & Earth On Auron, every clone lives in a world buoyed by the constant murmur of telepathic support, gossip and opinions. When Ariane Cally’s plane crashes in the middle of a wilderness park she finds herself cut off not only from rescue, but the voices that have sustained her all her life. Her only hope is the mysterious Aunty, the single voice she can still hear, a woman who claims to have been the second Cally ever to be born on Auron. From Aunty she will learn the true and secret history of her people, but only if the wilderness doesn’t kill her first.
You’d think that any audio drama featuring four characters, three with the same and similar voices there’d be some difficulty in following the story of who’s talking to who, what’s happening and to whom. No such problems exist in Blood & Earth and neither does the story suffer in the telling. Jan Chappell, who was the original Cally from the TV series Blake’s 7, takes on a new role as a new Cally – one of the original clones of the Auron colony. In this adventure she’s mentoring one of her sister clones who has crash landed in a wet and remote jungle. Meanwhile, another Cally is on a search and rescue mission high above the jungle looking for the crashed Cally any other survivors. The theme of telepathy is a hard one to convey very successfully in an audiobook – but the Blake’s 7 producers have done a terrific job with it in this audio drama. In between the action we get a good sense of the culture of Auron – how a few early decision in the colony’s history have determined the colony’s present and how they may determine its future.
Flag & Flame Twins are special; Auronar clone twins doubly so. They’re grown that way. Pilot Skate Cally and Operative Merrin Cally are a Flight Team on the Auronar cruiser Flag of Hope. They’ve been in each other’s heads, living each other’s lives, the same feelings, differences, orders and taste buds, since they were first poured out of a vat. But after High Command sends Skate on a one-way mission investigating Federation incursions in the Dancer Cluster, Merrin faces a bleak new future on her own, uncovering the dark half of the sister she thought she knew.
In this play, somewhat reminiscent of an episode of the new Battlestar Galactica, clone sisters Merrin Cally and Skate Cally are teamed up for a top secret scouting mission that needs to operate under a strict radio silence. Skate Cally, having had her uniform ‘sanitized,’ is placed into a space fighter that has also been stripped of insignia and identifying numbers. Meanwhile, Merrin Cally is taken to the bridge of Auron’s carrier flagship. She’s there to communicate everything Skate sees in the mysterious Dancer Cluster, their target. This is an excellent setup for an audio drama, we get both sides of the conversation, vivid description and ripe storytelling. Robert A. Heinlein’s 1957 novel Time For The Stars utilizes this same meme (genetically identical siblings sharing a telepathic bond) and so similar tensions apply – but unlike Heinlein’s adventure, Flag & Flame delivers a message of moral ambiguity. The cast does great work with the tight script, both Callys have distinct voices, and a subtle telepathic modulation tells us which viewpoint we’re in. After hearing this second dramatization set on Auron I have plenty of questions. Presumably these will be filled in with future B7 installments (when one Cally joins up with Blake and the Liberator’s crew).
The SFFaudio Podcast #040 – Jesse and Scott are joined by Steve Feldberg of Audible.com to talk about Audible Frontiers and other Audible.com projects. We talk audiobooks the whole show, giving particular attention to those produced by Audible.com itself. Steve tells us all about a bunch of the upcoming Science Fiction, Fantasy, espionage, and crime audiobooks we can expect to see showing up in the Audible catalgoue this year and next!