Commentary: SFFaudio needs more Audio Drama

SFFaudio Commentary

SFFaudio MetaPetri Salin of the Tricrepicephalus blog seems to think we’re doing good work – and I have to agree. There’s never been a better time to be an audio fan. But his comments aren’t all praise. For instance, he thinks we’re a little short in the audio drama department (he keeps mentioning it). And, I guess I have to give him credit for spotting that too. We do lean a little more towards audiobooks than AD. Part of that is because personally I tend to listen in high noise environments – while shopping, in the car with the roof out, while riding a lawnmower – places where the subtleties of the art might be injured. Audio drama just doesn’t work as well under those conditions. I also tend to listen to audio drama and radio drama when I’m at home, especially in the evening or at bedtime. I treat audio drama, especially the downloaded stuff, as a treat, something I need not make notes about. Hence the less reviewage of it here.

So, given those limitations, I’ll try to add a bit more AD to the mix over the coming months. For now I’ll drop a few names of productions and podcasts I’ve been listening to lately…

BBC Audio - Venus In Copper - based on the novel by Lindsey DavisFALCO, or more specifically, Falco – Poseidon’s Gold – BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour Drama (2009)
I’m about half way through this, the latest adaptation of Lindsey Davis’ series of novels centering on the life of “private informer” Marcus Didius Falco (private investigator) Circa 72 A.D.. It’s a terrific show, as are they all, with stunning production values, top notch acting and a real different narrative voice (lots of voice over giving us what Falco is thinking). I’m a big fan of anything to do with history, and this period of the Roman Empire is full of plenty of intrigue. Anton Lesser, the star of the production is someone I’d like to follow the career of. He’s that good.

Jake Sampson: Monster Hunter – Broken Sea Audio Productions (2007 – 2009)
I don’t think I’ve ever reviewed this show properly, and I doubt I ever will. That is a shame because I really do enjoy it. It’s exactly what you would think given the title. Basically it’s a bastardized cross between Indiana Jones and The Call Of Cthulhu role playing game. It won’t make you think any deep thoughts, but it certainly hits the sweet spot between adventurous fun and historical drama. They’ve done four complete serials so far. I wouldn’t cry too hard if they never do another, but I’d certainly be up for another just the same.

Vanishing Point CBC Radio (1980s)
I’ve been listening to a lot of these lately, many of them are absolutely not to my taste. They do however feature stellar production, and make use of many excellent actors. This means that when they do hit a solid story, it usually turns out pretty damn well. I’ll post a bigger story on this series at some point as I’ve made a ton of notes on most of the episodes I’ve listened to.

And, I also did do a big post, just the other day, on the BBC World Service adaptation of Pontypool.

One series that I plan to start listening to sometime soon is…

Cold Blood – BBC Radio 7 (January 2005)
This was done by Simon Bovey, the same guy who wrote Slipstream, which I thought was absolutely smashing. BBC Radio 7 describes Cold Blood as “[a] Chilling drama set in 2015 at an Antarctic research station” and apparently listeners have loved it too saying:

‘The writing and acting is marvellous….a sumptuous production!’

Sounds good hey?

My friend Julie Davis, of Forgotten Classics, recently suggested I try out a couple new mystery series…

The Teahouse Detective BBC Radio 4 (1998 – 2000)
Based on the stories of Baroness Orczy, dramatised by Michael Butt.

Colvil and Soames BBC Radio 4 (1996 – 1998)
Mysteries investigated by intelligence officers Henry Colvil and Alex Soames.

I’ve now gotten both of these via Radio Downloader. Now I just have to make time to listen to them.

Another BBC series that’s piqued my interest is Saturday Night Theatre. Someone over on has been posting a few of these up as torrents and everything I’ve heard from it has been excellent. Bill Hollweg’s raves about The Tale Of The Knight, The Witch And The Dragon, for instance, prompted a post on it, and I know a lot of folks loved that one.

I also mentioned the BBC radio adaptation of Tiger Tiger, based on the novel Alfred Bester on a recent podcast. Similar-wise, I’ve recently got my mitts on Saturday Night Theatre’s version of Arthur C. Clarke’s 1961 novel A Fall Of Moondust (it’s available in a 2 CD set from BBC Audio) and I’m really looking forward to hearing that.

Blake's 7 - Point Of No Return and Eye Of The MachineOn the commercial front there’s been a couple reviews that I’ve done of the new Blake’s 7 series |HERE| and |HERE|. Those come with our highest recommendation, the “SFFaudio Essential” designation.

Similarily, I’ve got another highly recommended series for you: - Bradbury 13 - A Sound Of Thunder is now offering the ever elusive and highly sought after so called “BRADBURY 13” produced in the early 1980s by Brigham Young University.

Who cares about Mormon Audio Drama?

Well my friends, even if you’re no latter day saint, you really should!

See the Mormon church loves AUDIO DRAMA. Just ask Orson Scott Card.

As a consequence of doing so much of it Mormons do it very well. And thus the BRADBURY 13 is arguably the best audio drama ever produced in the United States Of America.

The series is based on 13 unconnected short stories by Ray Bradbury. They are full 3-D sound productions, with quality acting, and ultra-rich soundscapes. 12 of the 13 had been made available in the 1990s on cassettes (email me if you want to buy these – I’ve still got some left) but now, finally, all 13 are available in a modern digital format. This, combined with the fact that’s new “Audible Enhanced Audio” format is in STEREO! This means that many audio drama fans are going to be extremely happy.

There are a couple of other things I can recommend for fans of Audio Drama who still find us wanting.

1. Listen to our podcast. Scott and I listen to more than we review. A lot of that is audio drama – we talk about it, and many other things, on the podcast.

2. Make some recommendations yourself. I don’t mean just drop the names of these shows, I mean really tell us what you’re listening to and why you like it, or don’t like it. Post it up as a comment, write it up on your own blog, or send me an email.

So, that’s what on my audio drama plate. What audio dramas are you folks listening to?

Posted by Jesse Willis

BBCR4: The Tale Of The Knight, The Witch And The Dragon

SFFaudio Online Audio

A few folks out there have been saying we need more audio drama coverage. In answer to this I thought I’d give more play to more of the AD recommendations that come my way. Today, I draw your attention to one episode of “the best-remembered and most often privately-recorded of all BBC Radio Drama series”Saturday Night Theatre. SNT was broadcast on BBC radio stations from 1943 to 1997. One of the BBC’s flagship radio drama programs, it showcased both adaptations of literature and all-original plays. Most of these recordings are lost (a full listing of SNT broadcasts is available HERE), but through the good graces of fans in the U.K. some of these lost shows are becoming available once again. That’s where this particular play comes in. Bill Hollweg of Broken Sea Audio Productions sez:

“I listened last night and this is BY FAR the best Fantasy AD since LOTR [The Lord Of The Rings] by the BBC- you will be AMAZED at the stereo mix- there’s a scene with a winding stair case in a castle that will knock your socks off

Plus Capt Picard [Patrick Stewart] as a knight the has seen better days is just FANTASTIC! This is not a small kids tale but a great FANTASY!!!

ALL MIXERS should LISTEN TO THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

BBC Radio 4The Tale Of The Knight, The Witch And The Dragon
By J.C.W. Brook; Performed by a full cast
1 Broadcast – Approx. 84 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 4 (Saturday Night Theatre)
Broadcast: Saturday 8th April 1978
“…a story of the past… the past of the imagination where all things are possible. A tale of power, love, sacrifice and of when the last fingers of myth and legend, sorcery and magic, trailed across the Earth before the world was so. It is a cosy world at peace. Where war is a make-believe and people know their place. A set, defined, established land of order and tranquility where evil only lies in the past… but that past approaches fast.”

Patrick Stewart … The Knight, Sir Hugh of Monreth
Peggy Paige … The Witch Kavern
Anthony Newlands … The King
Elizabeth Proud … The Princess Edith
Gavin Campbell … Sir Edmund
Henry Knowles … The Herald
Marcus Campbell … Ian, Sir Hugh’s Page
Sheila Grant … Jane, The Princess’s Gentlewoman
Kate Binchy … Marianne, The Witch’s Daughter
Kenneth Shanley and Jonathan Scott … The King’s Subjects
Timothy Bateson … Scrimp, the Story Teller
Peter Howell of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop … sound effects and score
Directed by Ian Cotterell

Available for download via Mediafire |HERE|

Posted by Jesse Willis

China Mieville on H.P. Lovecraft’s The Horror Of Red Hook

SFFaudio Online Audio

A short video of city lover China Mieville talking about H.P. Lovecraft’s The Horror Of Red Hook (which is set in New York City). Lovecraft didn’t like living in NYC.

Lovecraft spelled out his inspiration for The Horror At Red Hook in a letter to Clark Ashton Smith:

“The idea that black magic exists in secret today, or that hellish antique rites still exist in obscurity, is one that I have used and shall use again. When you see my new tale The Horror at Red Hook, you will see what use I make of the idea in connexion with the gangs of young loafers & herds of evil-looking foreigners that one sees everywhere in New York.” -from H. P. Lovecraft, Selected Letters Vol. 2

Lovecraft’s wife, Sonia Greene, wrote of her husband’s xenophobia:

“Whenever we found ourselves in the racially mixed crowds which characterize New York, Howard would become livid with rage. He seemed almost to lose his mind.”
-From Lovecraft: A Look Behind the Cthulhu Mythos

And here is a reading of the story itself…

Weird Tales January 1927The Horror Of Red Hook
By H.P. Lovecraft; Read by April Sadowski
1 |MP3| – Approx. 45 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: Broken Sea Audio Productions
Podcast: October 2008
Red Hook is a mysterious slum in New York City, full of gangs, crime, and just perhaps a terrible cult. Detective Malone had a case that had tendrils extending into Red Hook. It seems that one Robert Suydam, a corpulent and scruffy recluse, has been looking younger, more radiant and prosperous. What does that have to do with the recent spate of kidnappings? First published in the January 1927 issue of Weird Tales.

[via Monster Rally, Ominvoracious, Wikipedia and BSAP]

Posted by Jesse Willis

BSAP’s Halloween includes Zombie Cheerleaders

SFFaudio News

Broken Sea AudioBroken Sea Audio Productions is so worried that the faint-hearted (or light headed) among you will be extremely disturbed by their new Halloween offering, Zombie Cheerleaders, that they’ve setup some hoop jumping in a terms-of-use-style: “This Audio is for Mature audiences only. If you are NOT over the age of 18, DO NOT DOWNLOAD. DO NOT LISTEN.”

Dare you listen to the…

Zombie Cheerleaders


Says me: “It’s weird hearing Mark Kalita swear.”

Says one hypothetical listener who’s a cheerleader herself: “Like oh-mahgawd! It’s like so scarey. She’s like totally a cheerleader and a zawmbee. Eww, growss.”

To check out the other scary, but less cheerleadery, BSAP offerings CLICK HERE.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Broken Sea offers Logan’s Run

SFFaudio Online Audio

Broken Sea - Logan's RunBroken Sea Audio is posting new shows like mad, with a stunning collection of all-original programs coming out day after day, but they also have a new companion show to their homage to their Planet Of The Apes audio drama, Logan’s Run ! It isn’t just a book and an SF movie anymore, now its an audio drama too!

Get the first part: Logans Run Chapter 1: Carousel |MP3|

Sometime in the 23rd century…the survivors of war, overpopulation and pollution are living in a great domed city, sealed away from the forgotten world outside. Here, in a seemingly perfect world, mankind lives only for pleasure. There’s just one catch: Life must end at thirty unless reborn in the fiery ritual of Carousel.

Paste the following link in to your favorite podcatcher to subscribe to the show:

Broken Sea Audio

SFFaudio Online Audio

Broken Sea AudioBroken Sea Audio, has now gone live with their Planet Of The Apes audio drama (the one I was spreading rumours about). It looks like a number of other exciting sounding projects in progress too! Broken Sea is another umbrella audio group like Pendant Productions and Darker Projects. That’s a good thing. I listened to the first part of their Planet Of The Apes show and am very interested to see where it is going to go. You can get in on the action by clicking on over to the main site (which seemingly has new features being added by the hour). I’ve also had the chance to listen to the first instalment of their Grog & Gryphon show. Which is a “sword and sorcery fantasy in the tradition of Conan the Barbarian and Lord of the Rings.” Vampires, Amazons, Goblins with attitude, werewolves, ghosts, heroes and evil forces of the dark permeate this tale of high fantasy….

In a distant kingdom, a ragged group of adventurers are forced together to fight a forgotten prophecy of evil. The thread unifying these diverse warriors and mystics- the Grog and Gryphon tavern…Written and Produced by Broken Sea big-wig Bill Hollweg.

Here’s the podcast feed for Grog & Gryphon:

And we’ve got the podcast feed for The Planet Of The Apes show too:

Listen out for more Broken Sea audio soon, I think it will be sounding good!