Review of Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein

SFFaudio Review

Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein; Read by Lloyd James
5 Cassettes – 7.5 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Blackstone Audiobooks
Date Published: 1999
List Price: USD $39.95 – IN PRINT
ISBN: 0786117451
Themes: Science Fiction / Sci-Fi / Fantasy / Mystery / Pulp / Politics / Mars / Spaceships / Acting / Theatre / Shakespeare

One minute, down and out actor Lorenzo Smythe was – as usual – in a bar, drinking away his troubles as he watched his career go down the tubes. Then a space pilot bought him a drink, and the next thing Smythe knew, he was shanghaied to Mars. Suddenly he found himself agreeing to the most difficult role of his career: impersonating an important politician who had been kidnapped. Peace with the Martians was at stake – failure to pull off the act could result in interplanetary war. And Smythe’s own life was on the line – for if he wasn’t assassinated, there was always the possibility that he might be trapped in his new role forever!

Some Heinlein readers believe that the philosophy in Starship Troopers was Heinlein’s personal philosophy. They’re wrong. Heinlein’s primary philosophy was to provoke thought by explicating political consequences of certain philosophies… and to be entertaining doing it. Double Star proves this emphatically, presenting a completely different political system than Starship Troopers. The plot is a well known one. As old as the fairy tale The Prince and The Pauper, The Prisoner of Zenda or The Man In The Iron Mask; As new as the Hollywood movie Dave (1994) starring Kevin Kline.

This unabridged audiobook has so much more: Interplanetary space travel, alien contact and political upheaval. But it also has a fully realized political system, political campaigns, theory of government, theory of acting, kidnapping, murder, dirty tricks and its a mystery! There really is no better science fiction writer than Robert A. Heinlein. There are other great books by other great writers but none is as great as the dean of science fiction RAH. The reason? Simply put, he tells damn fine stories and does so constantly. This novel is a great example of just that. With a wild premise and a somewhat divergent plot (from Heinlein’s various themes) it tells an implausible story plausibly with emotional impact. This book won a Hugo award for 1956 (Heinlein’s first) and deserved it. It’s a fun ride and highly enjoyable. Pop it in your cassette deck and enter a different world.

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Commentary: Renting audiobooks

SFFaudio Commentary

Renting audiobooks is a cost-effective way of getting your hands on some very good stuff. How does it work? With most of the companies listed here, you select a book or two that is sent to you in a self-addressed stamped box. Usually you keep the book for 30 days, after which you put the book back in the box, tape it closed, then drop it in a mailbox. There’s no need to add postage, because it’s already paid.

Some of these companies allow you to set ship dates for the books you select so that you can order several at a time, and have them arrive every two weeks or so.

Blackstone Audio

Blackstone Audio has been doing more and more science fiction and fantasy lately. The narrators are generally good. Some of their latest include Jack Williamson’s The Humanoids and a collection of short stories by Robert Silverberg. They also carry some audio drama, including an adaptation of Homer’s The Odyssey that I’m eager to hear.

Books on Tape

Books on Tape has an unabridged science fiction collection that’s highlighted by Isaac Asimov’s entire Foundation series and by Frank Herbert’s Dune series (including unabridged versions of the recent prequels written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson). There are a few short story collections here as well.

Recorded Books, Inc.

Recorded Books has the biggest collection of quality science fiction and fantasy, it’s getting even larger. Their narrators are the best, including Frank Muller, George Guidall, Rob Inglis, and Richard Ferrone, among many others. They’ve got some great titles, too. To name a few: Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, several Robert A. Heinlein titles, Piers Anthony’s Incarnations of Immortality series, and Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower and Parable of the TalentsDoomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis are also here, along with many other good titles.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Here are the 2003 Audie Award nominees, for excel…

SFFaudio News

Here are the 2003 Audie Award nominees, for excellence in audiobooks. Find the whole list at the Audio Publisher’s Association.

Science Fiction
Catch the Lightning by Catherine Asaro, read by Anna Fields Blackstone AudioBooks
Dune: Butlerian Jihad by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, read by Scott Brick Books on Tape, Inc.
The Fifth Sorceress by Robert Newcomb, read by John Lee Books on Tape, Inc.
The Pillars of Creation by Terry Goodkind, read by Jim Bond Brilliance Audio
Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs Ulverscroft Large Print

I’m a little surprised with this list, largely because there is nothing there from Audio Literature whose Fantastic Audio imprint is consistently excellent. I’m certain that their unabridged Ender’s Game audio was released in March 2002, which would qualify it for this award. Also, Ursula K. LeGuin’s Tales from Earthsea was excellent and from around the same time. How is something nominated? Who does the judging?

Some other interesting nominees:

Children’s Titles For Ages 8+ includes Coraline by Neil Gaiman, read by Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins Publishers).

In the Audio Drama category, The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis, read by a full cast (Focus on the Family).

Fiction or Non-Fiction, Licensed or Distributed: Two Plays for Voices by Neil Gaiman, read by Brian Dennehy, Bebe Neuwirth and a full cast (HarperCollins Publishers)

Package Design: The Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, fully dramatized (HighBridge)

And this last category…
Achievement in Production
The Joy of Pi by David Blatner, read by Oliver Wyman, Hank Jacobs & Laura Dean (Random House Audible)
The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis, read by a full cast (Focus on the Family)
Seek by Paul Fleischman, read by a full cast (Listening Library, an imprint of Random House Audio)
The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis, read by a full cast (Focus on the Family)
Two Plays for Voices by Neil Gaiman, read by Brian Dennehy, BeBe Neuwirth and a full cast (HarperCollins Publishers)

Posted by Scott D. Danielson