New Release – The Adaptive Ultimate by Stanley G. Weinbaum

New Releases

Stanley G. Weinbaum was a SF sensation when his first story, A Martian Odyssey, appeared in 1934.  In less than two years though, he died of throat cancer.  But he still managed to leave numerous classics and near-classics to posterity.

The Adaptive UltimateThe Adaptive Ultimate
By Stanley G. Weinbaum; Read by Mark Douglas Nelson
1 hr. – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Wonder Audio
Availiable at Audible and iTunes

Dr. Daniel Scott, through experimentation with lab animals, has invented a serum that enables an organism to adapt itself to overcome injuries and disease. He gets his chance to try his experimental drug on a dying tubercular patient named Kyra Zelas.

Scott and his colleague, Dr. Herman Bach, are amazed when the girl recovers, but she soon begins to exhibit strange actions. Her physical appearance can change to hide her abhorrent behavior. She appears to adapt herself emotionally to save herself. But can she love?

Kyra Zelas has become the Adaptive Ultimate. How she adapts to survive may be to the detriment of the human race.

The Adaptive Ultimate originally appeared in the November 1935 issue of Astounding Stories under the pseudonym John Jessel.

New FREE AUDIOBOOK: Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Colors Of Space

SFFaudio Online Audio

A new LibriVox title has piqued our interest. It’s Marion Zimmer Bradley’s 1963 novel The Colors Of Space. Sadly, this is not the ideal audio version of it as it has multiple readers – who seem to have randomly chosen their chapters. I think the ethos of LibriVox is absolutely wonderful, but the output, especially in cases like this seems more geared towards project completion and narrator convenience rather than listener preference. That said, the audiobook is 100% free and very easily downloadable either by a Zipped Folder full of MP3s, singly in individual file of MP3 or OGG Vorbis formats and by the podcast feed (including a one click iTunes subscription).

LibriVox audiobook - The Colors Of Space by Marion Zimmer BradleyThe Colors Of Space
By Marion Zimmer Bradley; Read by various readers
15 zipped MP3 Files or podcast – 5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: July 29th 2007
Bart Steele, a Space Academy graduate, has the potential to gain the secret of an alien “warp drive”, a super-fast technology for interstellar travel. He’ll have to get some surgery, and spy upon an alien race to do it but he’s . lucky because by a bit of genetic quirk Bart can see a wider optical range than ordinary humans. Still, countless human spies have already failed to gain the secret.

You can get the entire novel in podcast form, via this handy url:

http://librivox.org/bookfeeds/the-colors-of-space-by-marion-zimmer-bradley.xml

BBC Radio 3 talks about Life, But Not As We Know It

SFFaudio Online Audio

Online Audio BBC Radio 3BBC Radio 3 has an intriguing program available through their Listen Again service. A three part series about the consequences of the existence of alien life…

The Essay – Life, But Not As We Know It
3 Radio Broadcasts – Approx. 45 Minutes [DOCUMENTARY]
BROADCASTER: BBC Radio 3
BROADCAST: July 16th, 18th and 19th 2007
A biologist, a writer and a philosopher each explore their fascination with the notion of extraterrestrial intelligence and what such a discovery could mean for the future of humanity.

Part 1 – “Biologist Jack Cohen on why the discovery of aliens would change our view of biology, evolution and organised religion.”

Part 2 – “Writer Andrew Crumey delves into our literary past to discover a fascination with alien life dating back to the middle ages and beyond.”

Part 3 – “Philosopher Nick Bostrom explains why he believes that the discovery of aliens would be a disaster for the future of humanity and lead to the end of civilisation as we know it.”

All three parts are available HERE via the BBC Radio 3 Listen Again service for the next few days or so.

Review of The Gripping Hand by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

SFFaudio Radio Drama Review

Science Fiction Audio Book - The Gripping Hand by Larry Niven and Jerry PournelleThe Gripping Hand
By Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle; Read by Jay O. Sanders
2 Cassettes – Approx. 3 Hours [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Published: 1993
ISBN: 0671791109
Themes: / Science Fiction / Hard SF / Biology / Politics / Economics /Galactic Civilization / Galactic Empire / Mormonism /

Twenty-five years have passed since the second Empire of man quarantined the mysterious aliens known only as Moties within the confines of their own solar system – afraid of the threat these aliens may pose to man kind. But the wall seperating man from the Moties is beginning to crumble…

The Gripping Hand is set in a the “CoDominium” universe originated by Jerry Pournelle. This is the sequel to their first novel together, The Mote In God’s Eye (not available on audio). The setting is that of a future interstellar empire in which humanity has only one major rival for complete dominance. The so-called “Moties” are an intelligent species that is so war-like, so very dangerous, that an enitre human naval task force sits blockading the Motie system’s only exit. The Moties are a species divided into distinct biological forms, each serving a different function. Master. Mediator. Engineer. Warrior. Each type is supremely adapted to its task, and only constant civil war has kept their population in check. Combined with the specialization is a terrible burden; if Moties don’t breed they die agonzing deaths.

For those who haven’t already read The Mote In God’s Eye, you may want to stop reading now as spoilers must follow. At the end of The Mote In God’s Eye, Sir Kevin Renner and His Excellency Horace Bury were secretly enlisted into Imperial Naval Intelligence. For the twenty-five years since then, they’ve acted as unpaid spies, keeping a watchful eye for “outies” (human raiders) in order that the empire might focus its meager resources on the overwhelming Motie threat. Bury is a merchant prince whose dealings allow him access to the underworld of many border worlds. Renner, a former naval officer, now acts as a field agent in the employ of Bury. When a botched Mormon kidnapping plot appears to involve a Motie phrase “the gripping hand”, Bury demands to inspect the fleet blockading the Motie system. His journey leads him to several surprises.

There’s a bit of bad news about this audiobook. If the abridgement had been longer there would still be some question as to whether or not we’d know what is going on in this book. I’ve listened about three times now and I’m pretty impressed at how much sense I’ve managed to make of it in spite of what little of the novel is there. It almost works. It has the barest framework of the plot left, lots of interesting characters, some very good dialogue, and a few simply brilliant SF ideas – but the final feeling I was left with at the end is great disappointment. We would really could have had a special audiobook here, if Simon & Schuster hadn’t knocked out so much in their drive to release 2-cassette abridgments as they did back in the early 1990s. This all is especially upseting because narrator Jay O. Sanders does a fantastic job with the accents and character voices. I think it is safe to say that the fad of abridging the snot out of every novel that comes down the pipe is over. That’s a good thing. It came to late for this audiobook. Some publisher out there should get a hold of The Mote In God’s Eye and record it, complete and unabridged, and while they’re at it they should get Jay O. Sanders to do the reading. We know he’ll do a good job.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Harvest by Alec Sand

The Harvest by Daniel SandThe Harvest
By Alec Sand; Read by John Pruskin
1 MP3-CD – 4 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Academic MP3 Audiobooks
Themes: / Science Fiction / Space Travel / Biology / Alien life / Medicine /

Click here for an Audio Trailer

The Harvest is a short novel of future history. No, it’s a bit more than just that. Alec Sand has created a detailed future in which his characters move. It is a future in which a substance called iridium has changed things significantly – it’s a substance from which power is derived and the finding and mining of iridium occupies much of mankind’s time. The Harvest is hard science fiction in which the ideas and concepts generously flow.

In this future, Gideon and his sister Dara reside. Dara has a disease that Gideon is somehow convinced has a cure somewhere “out there”, so he takes her with him on a mining expedition to a new planet. Dara finds much there.

There was some lecturing during the story, which I felt slowed things down a bit. The author could have found smoother ways to introduce information, but it was all interesting, and I found myself eager to know what happened next. I liked the story as a whole very much.

John Pruskin narrates, and overall was very good at keeping my interest. There were a few errors in the narration, but again – I was always eager to continue, and a listener can’t ask for much more than that. He maintained a good, consistent pace throughout and read with clarity.

A unique aspect of this audiobook is its soundtrack. There are several songs that play at various times throughout the audiobook, usually as bridges between chapters or sections. A band called Silk84 provides this music, and the songs are included in full in a different folder on the MP3-CD. I’m listening to some of this music as I write this… I like it! The music ranges from upbeat dance music to beautiful piano music, and though I didn’t always feel the music matched my mood while listening, what Academic did with music in this audiobook is unique and it worked! Yeah, Silk84… I like the sound of your guitar. (You can find Silk84 on iTunes.)

You can get a copy of The Harvest from Academic MP3’s website by clicking right here.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Survival: Species Imperative #1 by Juile E. Czerneda

Science Fiction Audiobook - Survival: Species Imperative 1 by Julie CzernedaSurvival: Species Imperative #1
By Juile E. Czerneda; Read by Christine Marshall and William Dufris
1 MP3-CD, 16hr [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Paperback Digital
Published: 2005
ISBN: 1584390050
Themes: / Science Fiction / Alien Life / Biology /

Survival is the first novel in the planned trilogy entitled Species Imperative. It’s science fiction in the grand tradition – written by a scientist, it contains plenty of science. As I was listening, I likened it to Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama in the way it is a constant detailed unfolding view of an alien mystery. But the comparison would have to stop there, because in this book the aliens are right there; in Rama we never got to actually see them.

The story’s main character is Dr. Mackenzie Connor, who honestly wants nothing to do with aliens. Her thing is salmon, and we first meet her while she’s studying salmon at a research facility in northwest North America. Then, a Dhryn arrives. A Dhryn is a six armed, blue, intelligent alien who seeks out Dr. Connor specifically to share some archaeological information with her. But shortly after the Dryhn arrives, strange things start to happen at the research facility, which propel Dr. Connor into a partnership with the alien as they unravel an enigma. Event by event and discovery by discovery mysteries unfold.

Christine Marshall and William Dufris turn in excellent performances. The two narrators tell the story seamlessly in a masterfully edited dual narration. The Dhryn’s voice (performed by Dufris) is very effective, and is a great example of how audiobook narration can add depth to an author’s character. Marshall has the bulk of the narrating duties here, and she sets a good pace for the prose, which contains much expositional material.

Overall, this is good hard science fiction that like all good hard science fiction leaves us much to consider; in this case about humanity, nature, and the relationship between the two.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson